Saturday, September 29, 2007

Naegleria Fowleri
(a special article for those of you with nothing to worry about)
The Case For Nose Plugs
Down South
It's not science fiction. It is a bug, probably from Australia. It lives in warm waters. It can kill you in two weeks.
23 people have died with this infestation, all in Florida, Texas or Arizona. The bug likes warm places and is stirredup from the sediment and into the water by waders. It can also live in swimming pools. Now, here's where it gets really ghoulish.
It enters via a swimmers nose, migrates up the olfactory nerve (the one that tells you that your neoprene needs a bath...but I digress) and up into the brain where it feeds. Folks unfortunate enough to serve as a dormitory for these little guys complain of headache (well, dah), fever and other nonspecific symptoms. Neurological symptoms occur next, and death follows within days. There is no cure.
Prevention: plug up your nose. Incidences are rare, but the fatality is 100% for those who have gotten it.

Paddle safe...

Friday, September 28, 2007

A Jewel in the Crown

I've written about JB before. He's the man who taught me how to kayak and then (along with Sam Crowley of around Ireland fame...but I digress) taught me how to teach others how to kayak. He's a busy guy with a full time job and a part time job as an EMT.

This short posting is to announce that JB has just become an ACA Instructor Trainer, something he has worked long and hard to achieve. I am proud of him and proud to number him among my friends.

Paddle safe...


Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Land of the Silly

Generally speaking, I don't follow, watch or have any interest in any professional sports. I find the "athletes" boring, over paid and unreliable. I guess some of this is due to having spent my life in a profession where "batting .500" would have landed me in jail. I figure that anyone who is paid $1,000,000 to do anything ought to do it damn near perfect every time.

I see multi-millionaire baseball players (the least athletic players of all...but I digress) drop fly balls. Unacceptable, and no better than the average sand lot team. Now basketball players are athletes. They run constantly and have tremendous conditioning. They do what they do very individuals, however, many are not team players.

Then there is the vicarious thrill that fans get when "we" win. That's when pot-bellied couch slugs have even more beer to celebrate "their" victory. I wonder how many of them have ever tasted the joy of winning for themselves. How many have achieved a desired time, gotten a new roll, conquered a mountain or just walked the twenty minutes a day they had planned on doing.

The amateur teams, on the other hand, are entertaining, and the athletes play from their hearts. I enjoy some college football, although I am saddened by how the big universities use their athletes for financial gain. A college poll vaulter, a white water kayaker, a kid playing sandlot baseball are all folks to whom I can relate. For the most part, their motivation comes from within, and they compete from the heart.
So, now I will get the morning paper and see how "our" (I've never gotten a dividend from them) Brewers are blowing their chances of making the play offs (bums, with their heads) and what records the Packer's quarter back has broken.

Paddle safe...


Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Doctor's Excuse

I'm writing myself a doctor's excuse and will be a bit scarce for the remainder of this week. No, I'm not ill. In fact, everything is fine. It's just that I have a lot to do just now.

Within the hour I will be leaving for Chicago with daughter number 2 where I will be most of the day. Lady Linda leaves tomorrow to see grandson Joseph. On Thursday I am due in Madison for an instructor update. And so it goes.

I need to confess that having no on the water camera at the moment has also put a damper on my creativity. I need to rectify that. In any event, I will pop in if the opportunity (and an idea...but I digress) avails itself.

Paddle safe...

Monday, September 24, 2007

ERICHErich and I have been friends since 1996. We met at a men's initiation weekend and have spent a lot of time together ever since. We probably know more about one another than do our wives (I hope Lady Linda doesn't read today's posting...but I digress).

By profession, Erich is a glass blower and does scientific as well as artistic work. He is amazing to watch. He is also a can-do guy and has done such simple tasks as rebuilding cars, siding his house and fixing and inventing all sorts of gizmos. He loves nothing more than to be presented with something that doesn't work and being left to ponder the thing until he figures it out and fixes it.

He has three wonderful daughters which he has personally home schooled, and he is a rock climber instructor. For years we've talked about getting him into a kayak and, just a few weeks ago, that's just what he did.

As one might expect of such a capable and athletic guy, Erich took right to it. He had my Arctic Tern doing all the things an intermediate kayaker can do with a boat.

Now he wants a second go at it, and guess what he wants to learn. Rolling, of course...and I bet he does it.
Paddle safe...

Saturday, September 22, 2007

On The Other Hand... (see yesterday's post) In the day, Canon turned out the AE-1, a manual focus film camera. There is through the lens metering as well. There is a Fresnel, split-image screen that makes accurate focusing a breeze. The lens is f1.8 allowing for low light level work. You have to wind the film yourself. Who would want such a primitive camera?
Me, for one. I've purchased several over the years. The bodies are available for around $100. It is a work horse without the fragile bells and whistles of say an Optio. And when the shutter goes off there is a satisfying clank. Best of all, can you say reliable?
So is the new fangled stuff worthwhile? Hell yes, in fact my grandson just came up on the video cam. Later.
Paddle safe...

Friday, September 21, 2007

Fancy Paper Weights I know, it is a pic of the beloved Optio waterproof camera so many of us use on the water. And there is no question but that it takes excellent images and has a wide range of features (depending on which edition of the camera you have...but I digress). Now and then, however, I read someone complaining about the thing breaking. I am now a proud member of that club. With no eye piece, one is dependent on the rear display when aiming the bugger. A few days ago, however, my screen gave up the fight and no longer works. Like a real guy, I never registered the guarantee and cannot find the paper work to show that this is a relatively new camera. I have been a loyal Canon fan for ever and have all sorts of their digital and film cameras and lenses. Time to rethink it all. (Note to self: send in guarantee card. Save proof of purchase).
Paddle safe...

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Hoofers I bet you thought that this expression referred to a group of dancers. In fact, it is also the name of a club at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. The campus is located on the shores of Lake Mendota, one of only two lakes in the world with three strata of water (what ever that means). In fact, the international limnology group meets there once a year (I think the other lake is in Switzerland...but I digress).
All that aside, the hoofers has a fleet of sailboats and offers all sorts of programs, including kayaking. The group sometimes joins us here in Milwaukee for our Sunday morning outings. They usually make a day of it and stay around to practice rescues.
Should you find yourself in Madison and near the campus, be sure to drop in on them and see what they have going on. Many a student has had their first introduction to water sports through this unique organization.
Paddle safe...

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The Lowly Duck

When I was a kid (chronologically), we had a canary in our home. That little guy was quite tame and would sit on my finger as if it were a parakeet. And it sang like a diva. Just turn on the water faucet and the house was filled with the most amazing sound. Ever since then I have been fascinated by birds.

I am not a bird watcher per se, but I do delight in watching them on the feeder and where ever I find them in the wild. A soaring hawk, a garish cardinal a skittish king fisher or a stark-still heron stalking a fish. All have a beauty of their own. I also welcome the sounds of our avian friends (although I can only identify a few...but I digress). But, then, there seems to be birds relegated to second tier citizenship.

Around here the geese hang out all winter and donate tons of fertilizer to lawns throughout the area. They, along with ducks, do not possess lovely voices. Still, even these commoners possess a beauty of their own. I guess that's why I took time to photograph a few when I found them hanging around our south shore launch site. Just another perk of being out there (dare I say it helps me keep my ducks in a row?).

Paddle safe...


Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The World of kayaking...
According to Alan

Alan is a very smart guy (pictured above in '06, before growing a goatee...but I digress). Heck, the guy is a forensic scientist. You know, a CSI guy. He can ID you from the DNA in the snot on your paddle. He actually testifies in court about this stuff. So, if it please the reader, I put him up as an expert witness. But on kayaking?

Alan is also an instructor and has been active in the Sierra Club. He has been known to go for a fun paddle when he is in love. While having coffee a few days ago, we got into a discussion about teaching...rescues in particular. Alan, as I recall, was lecturing me about never paddling alone, something I do regularly (like yesterday). He hammered home his point by telling me that he never teaches the paddle float rescue because 1, no one should paddle alone...especially neophytes and 2, no one can use it in the conditions that would result in a wet exit.

I objected. What if, I asked, a new paddler goes over in calm conditions only to discover that his partner cannot do a decent T-rescue? It went back and forth like that for a while. The best part of it all was that Alan (we were at his house) served sour cream apple pie. Me? I still pack a paddle float every time I launch. What about you?

Paddle safe...


Monday, September 17, 2007

"...but I'm not allowed to cross the street" It's the old joke about a cop finding a kid walking repeatedly around the block late at night. When asked what he is up to, the child explains that he is running away from home, but he is not allowed to cross the street. I felt like that kid as I read some of the blogs this morning and considered the paddling I do.
Freya has announced that she will be paddling around some of the islands of New Zealand come October (pictured above at Canoecopia with our very own Nydia of Chase the Ana fame... but I digress).
Michael is on his 23rd day of consecutive day paddles. He, too, regularly travels from home to find interesting waters. Derrick is fresh back from his circumnavigation, and Wendy from all sorts of trips to neat places. Yesterday, I again (in the company of JB and Greg) paddled the waters off South Shore here in Milwaukee.
There was a time when I ran long distances, often in the 10 and 12 mile range, just for the fun of it. I also used to like taking long drives in search of photographic images. That was then. Now, aside from this summer's excellent trip with JB to Lake Superior, I have settled for shorter drives and day paddles followed by a hot shower and a warm meal...or coffee. And, you know, I enjoy them as much as I did my longer activities.
I don't believe I could stand up to the rigors of a long expedition. I've done the endurance thing and know that those abilities have slipped away. I find it harder and harder to train for endurance and need to retool my thinking around that idea.
On another note, the film waterproof camera I have broke, leaving me without a camera I would want to take out onto the water. I don't want to drop another small bundle of cash on another unreliable piece of "modern" equipment. It is a loss that saddens me.
Oh well. It is getting warm again with temps headed toward 80F this week. I still have folks who want to learn to roll, and I want to get the skin on frame out there some more. Maybe I don't have to cross the street to have fun.

Paddle safe...

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Good Day
No PIcs

Good news and bad news. First the bad. No pics today because my Optio's screen died...or something. I have a very expensive paper weight. In any event, I took pics yesterday, but with a film camera. I have not had time to process them.

Good news: After awfulizing yesterday over the cold, I put on 14 layers and went out with Greg and Doug. I sweated bullets. On the bright side, we had 3-4 foot ocean like swells that we seldom get here. Usually, Lake Michigan has close-cropped waves. It was, after all, a pleasant paddle. In fact, Doug got his Greenland stick lay back roll going so well that it took him three revolutions to before he could stop what was happening (he was starting to look like a goat on a spit...but I digress).

Now, off for another paddle in calmer winds but colder air. Maybe 12 layers will do it.

Paddle safe...

Saturday, September 15, 2007

What Now? No, it hasn't snowed here...yet. This is a pic from last year, but it shows how I feel this morning. It is in the 40's out there. The temp in the house when I woke was 64. I feel like I am moments away from hypothermia. I am to meet Doug for a paddle in a few hours, and I am thinking (it pains me to say it...but I digress) dry suit. And the leaves havent even changed yet.
I don't like putting the damn thing on, and I am always waiting for the next gasket to rip, an event that keeps me off the water for several days while repairs are made. But this cold sensitivity has been coming on all summer. When we would cool the house done to 74 I would look for a sweater. I don't know what is going on. I know my thyroid is normal (functionally only) and that I am not anemic. Could it be (dare I say it?) the old bone's syndrome?
In my long distant running days I would be out in shorts until the air got below freezing (never worried about water temps back then...but I digress...again). I laughed when Floridians came up hered in the spring and wore jackets in 60 degree weather. Coming out of winter, we would all be walking around naked in such heat.
What ever the etiology of my chilly disposition, it is my new reality, and I have little choice but to dress accordingly. But I don't have to like it.

Paddle safe...

Friday, September 14, 2007

Too Much of a Good Thing
The Over Use Syndrome

The Capt'n is getting into shape, and he notes in his blog that he is doing it slowly. Good for him. Going too fast too soon can lead to a disaster called the over use syndrome (OUS). I've written about it before, but I need to remind myself about it lest I fall victim to its pain.

To begin, the training effect occurs when a system (muscle, respiratory, circulatory...but I digress) is worked at an effort slightly beyond its present level of conditioning. After such a stress the systems are allowed to rest during which time they heal and actually end up in a slightly higher state of conditioning than before the stress/exercise. If, however, the stress is too excessive and/or the rest period is too short to allow the healing, the entire organism will begin to suffer. If not immediately corrected, the OUS will ensue.

Symptoms of this sad condition include general fatigue and aches, a steady decline in performance in spite of continued "training", sore throat, swollen glands or lymph nodes and even mild fever (in severe cases). In short, it is almost a copy cat of infectious mononucleosis, except that the blood test for mono is negative. What about "treatment"?

The therapy for this condition is don't do something, just stand there. That is, rest. The problem is that if symptoms are ignored, a full-blown case of OUS can take up to a full year for recovery to occur.

So, follow the Capt'n's example. Some people can exercises every day while others need one, two or even three days of recovery in order to avoid problems. Recovery will take longer if the exercise is harder and/or longer. One way to assess recovery from aerobic activity is to monitor your heart rate upon wakening. If it suddenly increase by several beats per minute, do not exercises that have not fully recovered and your bod will not welcome additional stress. For strength training, muscle aches that persist may be the first symptoms that tell you that you've over done things. Remember that exercise, as it stresses the system, actually causes it minor injuries that must heal before being challenged again.

Paddle safe...


Thursday, September 13, 2007

Loose Ends
Here is an incoherent list of things on my mind this morning:
1. Several requests for a photo of the very lovely Lady Linda...folks want to know what she looks like, so above is a picture.
2. Ron got his instructor certification at ICE only to learn that while out of cell phone range his son had been hospitalized after an auto accident. Congrats to Ron along with prayers for his son's recovery.
3. Daveo has followed up on the recent death of a Paddler in the Apostles. Be sure to read the letters and comments his postings have generated. Lessons for us all.
4. The Capt'n is loosing weight and getting into shape. A youngster (he's only in his 50's...but I digress), he has a good approach. I will have to follow up with a posting on the over use syndrome very soon.
5. There will be an ICE in our area in a few weeks, and some of us are hoping for class III conditions.
Paddle safe...

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

It's Alex's Fault That We Head Into That Dark Night of Winter!

A short time ago he wrote a blog entitled something like Summer Is Over. Can you imagine? The chutzpa! To tempt the mysterious powers of the Universe when all is warm and going well is not the stuff with which mere mortals should screw around. Now look what he has done.

Lake Michigan's temps are plummeting like the real estate market, and we are waking with frost on our pumpkins (or what ever else you have in your bedroom...but I digress). Trees have begun whispering to one another about changing their clothes for the season, and heavy neoprene accessories have mysteriously moved forward on my kayak clothes rack. I tell you, all hell is breaking lose, and we're going to freeze.

And even Ron has disappeared. He went off to something called ICE (scary, right?) and hasn't been heard of since. See what I mean? One evil thing after another because of one thoughtless blog title.

Blog carefully...

Thanks a lot, Alex.

Paddle safe...


Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Sculls In My Skull It wasn't that long ago that I was a long distance runner and actively teaching Judo. I dearly loved doing both, each for a different reason. The running was convenient, and I was one of those people who got into it after about 4 miles. I used to run at an eight minute-per-mile pace (even did my marathons at that pace...but I digress). It was good for my body, and good for my head. I did some of my best creative thinking out on the road.
Then things changed, and I could not run. I even felt unsafe on the heaving deck of my cutter, and I sold the boat. What to do? For a while, I considered sculling.
I used to see these fragile-looking crafts on the lake in Madison when I was in school up there. I sometimes watched them work out and was impressed by their stamina. The thought of being out there and gliding across the water had an appeal for me, but I never got into it. When the leg went, it again became a consideration. But, then, I felt that the number of days one could find suitable conditions around here would be limited. Besides, how would Lady Linda feel about me cutting a hole in the garage to accommodate a scull?
In the end, I ended up with a rowing machine which I actually liked. Once into the rhythm of the thing, I would close my eyes and experience the sensation of skimming along the water. After a while, however, I wondered what the hell I was doing in basement all the time, and I wanted back out on the water.
The idea of sculling came back to me, but I realized I would never be happy (or comfy) going backwards (I know about the reverse oar systems) all the time. I don't know where it came from, but the idea of kayaking popped into my mind (I never liked canoes, almost died falling out of one into cold water...but I digress). I googled, found 'Baga and, as they say, the rest is history.
Paddle safe...

Monday, September 10, 2007

Is it Morning?

Great weekend in the Twin Cities (although we never spent time in one of the twins...but I digress). Lots of face time with Grandson Joseph. We had lots of talks, giggles and smiles, many around 4 AM as he stayed with Lady Linda and myself while his parents went into a crash recovery program for parents with infants. (The pink pacifyer was a joke promulgated by father Scot).

Joe's presence centers me. The picture, taken in a jam-packed room of noisy celebrators, shows the two of us in the eye of the storm, unaware and uncaring about the tumult around us. I told you that the trip would be good for my soul. BTW, I just woke after 11 hours sleep and recovery.

I am hoping that Ron had a good ICE experience and that Alex's camp went well while I enjoyed their fair city. I will post some pics this week. Meanwhile, temps in the lake here have plunged and I have to rethink life as I know it.

Paddle safe...


Friday, September 07, 2007

Ol' Rocking Chair...

(apologies for re using an image)

Jack Teagarden was a Dixie land trombone player with a raspy whiskey voice who used to sing a song, Ol' Rocking Chair's got me. I haven't been paddling long distances, but I have been spending a whole lot of time in the boats. Instead of feeling stronger and stronger, I feel more tired, more listless and weaker (although my strokes, per se, are strong...but I digress).

There is a dreaded condition called over use syndrome, but I don't meet all the criteria. can take a year to recover. Maybe my brain is noting the shortening of days and the coming of winter with its darkness and penetrating cold. Still, I haven't been in a boat since Monday, and I still don't feel rested, in spite of adequate sleep.

We, Lady Linda and I, are headed to Minneapolis for a wedding. We drive up today and return Sunday. Alex and Ron will be away, so I won't be getting into a boat for at least another four days. This will be a time to relax, be with my daughters, son in law, son-in-law-to-be and, most importantly, my grandson Joseph. Perhaps my body will feel healed after that. At least, I know, my soul will.

Paddle safe...


Thursday, September 06, 2007

Meet The Paddler
Doug Winter Doug lives in the Bay View area near the south shore launch site but teaches for the Milwaukee Public School System on the north side of town. In fact, he teaches at Sherman Grade School where I attended grades 3-6 (I lived a block from the school, and JB still lives in the general area...but I digress).
Doug is a self-motivated guy who is presently developing his rolling skills while awaiting a second kayak on order from Rutabaga. He has an above average IQ and a probing dry sense of humor that is easily missed if one isn't listening closely to what he is saying. A hard worker and eager to learn, Doug is rapidly acquiring open water skills.
Paddle safe...

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

'BAGA Rutabaga, of which I've often written, is a kayak shop in Monona, Wisconsin (Just south of Madison, on the beltway...but I digress). Off to the right you can see the Rack Haus, their shop that specializes in, as you might guess, racks. This is the place where I learned to paddle, to teach paddling and where I often teach classes in the pond out back. This pic, taken early in the morning, does not do the place justice as the "back yard" is generally full of kayak and canoe classes, kids and folks there to test paddle a new boat. The water connects to the Yahara River and then offers all sorts of routes to open lakes, rivers and gunk holes. There is public access here, and local folks can be seen putting in all day long. The retail operation is full service, and the staff is dynamite. I've often mentioned Nancy, my boss, who is charge of the Rutabaga Outdoor Programs (ROP). She is a perpetual motion gal who is constantly juggling schedules and getting students hooked up with the proper gear and classes. She organizes trips and all sorts of events that 'Baga sponsors.
Ownership has an interesting take on hiring. I don't think they would mind me sharing it with you. They tell people that they will hire them for who they are and teach them what they need to know rather than hire them for what they know and have to fire them for who they are. Cool, yes? If you are in the area, pay them a visit.

Paddle safe...

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Practice, Practice, PracticeIt's not just how you get to Carnegie Hall, it is how you (meaning "I"...but "I" digress) keep skills current. Especially life-saving rescue skills.

Yesterday, JB led an all day open water skills class and was kind enough to let me assist. He and I, as you know, frequently paddle together, and people are surprised when we tell them that we always spend some of that time practicing our draw, sweep and other strokes. Practice, practice, practice the basics.
Well, yesterday, while demonstrating the paddle float rescue, I actually inflated the bag before attaching it to the paddle. As I recall, I was caught up with making some point about the valves and got out of my usual routine and rhythm. A mistake like that, of course, could have led to the inflated (and unattached) bag blowing away and leaving me "high and dry." It was a good mistake because it happened during practice and has made me more mindful of what I am doing.

I cannot say how many times I've done that self rescue, and that is the first time I made that error. It was an eye-opener, I can tell you that. Take nothing for granted. Practice...always.

Paddle safe...

Monday, September 03, 2007

QAJAQ Camp...denouement That is pretty much it. The experience was great, and I learned a lot. I did fail to mention that there was a contingency of paddlers who enjoyed their adult beverages (limited to after paddling hours only). Many brought a selection of fine wines while others were really into martinis.
In the above photo Jeff demonstrates one variant of the proper grip. Notice the involvement of all fingers and the strong alignment of fine hand muscles allowing for a quick and efficient modified reverse tip to the lips movement.
Now, I am off to assist JB with an all day open water class. Drive safe...and.....

Paddle safe...

Sunday, September 02, 2007

QAJAQ Cup This year, I brought home a souvenir of the camp. A couple had hand thrown these cups, and each one had a slightly different shape and color. They are works of art that capture the spirit of the weekend. The inscription is dated 2007. It now sits here in my private sanctuary as a beacon back to the wonderful memories of that event.

Paddle safe...

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Rescue Me
I have two skin on frame boats, one of which I built and one from Peter Strand. I will paddle the former alone (near shore and with float bags...but I digress) because I have made it fit loosely and can wet exit it easily. But I wear my rolling machine and have to slither into it. I cannot quickly get out.
For the first time I heard this very problem addressed by the staff at camp along with warnings about paddling alone. There is always, of course, the Petrussen maneuver, but it requires (in a way) getting out of the cockpit (while the baggy Tuilik remains attached). One still has to re enter and roll if no one shows up to help.

If we are with someone and go over, the other paddler can turn us, even if we are unconscious and unable to assist in a bow rescue. This can be done from either end of the boat:Or at the cockpit by dropping one's weight into the water:The T-rescue, when done with SOF boats, is a bit different than what we do in European boats. It begins the same, with the entire boat coming aboard and being emptied:With the SOF's, the paddler being rescued is directed to the stern or bow of the rescue boat but finally to the bow where he or she helps drop the fore deck into the water:They then take a walk up the rescuer's boat (being careful to walk on the gunnels and not the soft deck) and re enter their boat while it sits high and dry. As in any situation, a panicky or uncooperative paddler may have to be subdued:I cannot begin to reproduce here the wonderful and witty banter that went on amongst these talented good friends as, at times, it was hard to tell if they were trying to rescue or drown one another. Best to just

Paddle safe...