Friday, November 30, 2007

Take Five

Musicians, like all other living things, know that sometimes you have to rest, rejuvenate, maybe sleep. It is part of the circadian rhythm in humans. It is the annual cycle in nature. Most religions recognize this with a sabbath once a week during which time people rest their bodies from the day to day toil and rejuvenate their spirits with rituals.

Annually, animals hibernate (or go to Florida for a vacation...but I digress), trees shed their leaves and some creatures shed feathers or antlers. Daily, leaves shut down their photosynthesis factories as the sun dips below the horizon, and people duck under the covers (or into sleeping bags...but I digress...again) and sleep. When we don't obey this natural law we inevitably pay a price.

Denied our sleep, REM sleep and dreams the fragile human mind suffers. Cognition begins to get fuzzy, immune systems get weak and tempers flare when the mind is denied its rest. The body, too, breaks down when not allowed to recover. Put too much stress on your muscles or give them inadequate rest time for recovery and they will ache and weaken.

It wasn't long ago that the local TV stations went off the air late in the evening. Stores closed, traffic dwindled to a trickle and only a few factories continued to function. Society as a whole rested, spent time with family and got ready for another day. Today we have hundreds of 24/7 channels, and everything from coffee shops to international business offices going around the clock. As a society we no longer honor the natural cycles. When night falls here the sun is rising with our business partners in Asia. Must do business. Must make more so we can...can what? Even machines break down if their maintenance schedule isn't honored. So, each evening, kayaks are pulled onto beaches and a place to rest is arranged.

Sometimes these rest cycles are mysterious and follow seemingly illogical schedules. Sometimes, like this past week, I just didn't feel like paddling in spite of some decent weather. This week I spent more time on long walks with Ansel, and I wrote more. Even though I did little that was strenuous, I continued to enjoy deep restful sleep. I suppose it could be laziness, ennui or even mild depression, except that I feel fine and on my game. Maybe it was just my body telling me to take five.

Paddle safe...


Thursday, November 29, 2007

They're Everywhere

I used to do a lot of work that would fall into the categories of personal growth, mediation and counseling. I enjoyed it and was always fascinated by the different attitudes and personalities I observed. None among these fascinated me more than the psychopathic personality.

These are the folks (mostly men...but I digress) who are often quite charming and make good first impressions. What makes them unique is their lack of the ability to feel guilty. They are dishonest and live as if the world revolves around them. Many politicians fit this bill. Interestingly, they know right from wrong but don't seem to care.

Yesterday, while reading about this disorder, I learned that a Harvard Professor found " isolated group of Yupik-speaking Inuit(s) near the Bering Strait" that used the term kunlangeta which meant "...someone who does not pay attention to reprimands and who is always being brought to the elders for punishment."

In this article in the current issue of Scientific America MIND, someone asked the Inuit what they did to deal with these folks. The answer? "Somebody would have pushed him off the ice when nobody else was looking."

Lesson: Do not supply politicians with PFDs.

Paddle safe...


Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Everyone Into The Pool

November is petering out and will soon be replaced by December. December, in turn, will bring snow, colder air and biting winds. It will also provide some good paddling on Lake Michigan with waves and challenging rescue conditions. We will return to shore in ice-covered boats. And my bones will crave the warmth. Everyone into the pool.I absolutely love pool sessions. The weather and water conditions are constant. There is no pollution. One finishes smelling refreshed from the chlorinated water...and then steps into a hot shower. The water is even good for my skin on frames as it prevents mildew.

There are folks with whom to chat, learn and teach. It is an ideal place to practice rolling. I get to see the helmeted white water guys do ballets in their small crafts. When it is over there are helping hands around to get the boat back onto the (frozen) car. What's not to like?

Paddle safe...


Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Time To Get Back Into The Game
Retirement has allowed me to do lots of fun and rewarding things. I have been involved with mentoring programs in the schools, served on the Bar Association disciplinary committee (no, I am not a lawyer..but I digress), teach kayaking and still have time to paddle and camp and mess around in anything I wish. I get to go to Cincinnati and Chicago to visit daughters and grandson. Even so, I still have a lot of "free" time. Read: empty hours.
I can meditate just so much, and long walks with Ansel usually involve standing around while he does olfactory assessments on fire hydrants. For some time now, I have been painfully aware that I need/crave more in my life. I need to feel more productive. I need to use my unused abilities more. What to do?I once wrote a small book (The Hand Book of Peak Performance) with another fellow (the late Ron Hering). I love writing and have had many articles published in various places. I have, in fact, drafted a book based on one of the talks I give in my other business. I own the trademark Work/WorkShoptm under which I do writing, give lectures and do workshops. It emphasises a soul approach to work, interpersonal relations and the like. I am also a mediator and have enjoyed doing that. What I do not enjoy is the pure business end of things (keeping books is, to me, piling them up in my room).So, I have contacted SCORE (the retired folks volunteer group) and have hooked up with a mentor who will help me learn how to market my work. I am going to drag out the draft of the book and finish it, although I plan to rewrite it entirely. I have contacted Erich, a soul mate and trusted friend with whom I have done a lot of personal work, and begun developing workshop and book ideas with him. Finally, I have contacted a local tenems group that places physicians in short term or fill-in practices. This will require filling out paper work and may take for ever to do.
I don't know what I will accomplish through all this. I do know that it feels good to "take the helm" rather than let myself just drift. We shall see.
Paddle safe...

Monday, November 26, 2007

Coming Soon To A Theater Near You

A photographic challenge I have been unable to meet is to get a still pic that demonstrates how the waves really look out there. For some reason the 2-dimensional images never have the same impact of being there; or, when the waves are really rolling, I am unwilling to hold the paddle with only one hand while I get out the camera. When I do go for it, the shutter lag on the Optio makes it hard to catch the peak action. Enter, stage left, JB and his wonder rig.

After much research and many hours pouring over This Is The Sea DVDs, JB has gotten himself a video rig that sits out on the fore deck of his kayak. I know he has taken many minutes, if not hours, of action; but we have seen none of it. This rig, in my judgment, offers a real opportunity to catch some winter seas and to convey to the viewer what it actually looks like out there in the weather. So, John, let's see what you've gotten so far :) ...or, are you waiting for a huge reveal at Canoecopia?

Paddle safe...


Saturday, November 24, 2007

It Goes Well

As it turns out, Scott (son in law #1...but I digress) is, among many things, an excellent chef. He prepared, from scratch, a multi-course feast that was enjoyed by all, including Joseph (seen below).I imagine that those of you not in the USA have similar occasions to our thanksgiving. It is a time for families to gather, over eat and give thanks for our many blessings. I hope all my country men had not only a fine meal but good people with whom to share it.

Paddle safe...


Thursday, November 22, 2007

On Holiday...and Thankful

Date line: Cincinnati (Pic: Grand Marais, Michigan)

So much to be grateful for today and every day. We are with Grandson, eldest daughter and son in law. We have food and shelter. I have friends and lots of family. I have decent health and all the toys I could wish for (well, maybe one more kayak with a longer hull...but I digress). On the way home we plan to visit our younger daughter and her husband, Uncle Ben Weiss.

My wishes are likely the same as yours and, hopefully, our children and grand children will see them come to fruition. Mean while, I will party on, give thanks and be back Monday...unless some jewel of a thought occurs before then.

Paddle safe...


Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Learning To Be Afraid...
All Over Again

(caption: "Hey mom, we're almost out of chewing tobacco)

Lady Linda and I are off by car to visit grandson Joseph and those two adults with whom he shares a house. This fellow's entrance into the world has brought on the same feelings that appeared when his mother and aunt were born.

Having seen my daughters reach adulthood and become their own persons, I had finally come to grips with all my demons and had arrived in a place free of fear, anger and sadness. Bliss. Then, along comes Joseph and all the old feelings return. There is, once again, another human being who I worry about more than I ever worry about myself. There is now a small person for whose safety I worry. I watch the news and, once again, feel fear and sadness about the world in which he will be living. It is at such times that I realize that, unlike a chemical equation/reaction, my world will never reach a steady state.

In one way, these feelings are a welcome burden. First, they take me outside of myself and make me look at the bigger picture. Second, it is a small price to pay for the joy these newbies have brought into my life.

There will be more changes and, as I grow older and older, more fears. And, I do believe, that's exactly how it should be.

Be grateful this thanksgiving (for American readers...but I digress) for what you have.

Paddle safe...


Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Living in Houses

First of all, that ain't my house, but I know the owners. Actually, I started thinking about living in houses after reading Michael's posting the other day. He was commenting on how the Inuit didn't like it when they began living in houses...and why. He concluded that they didn't like being separated or closed off from their environment. No matter how big the windows, no house offers as good a view as you can get standing just outside.

This has come up for me as I see my old pattern of staying indoors more as winter approaches. Never a big fan of frost bite, my day sometimes peaks 20 minutes after awakening as I stand in a steaming shower. Still, the daylight is shorter, and I am aware that I am in a little box sitting on this vast rotating planet.

Sunday, during post-paddle coffee, I found myself telling the others that I wanted to camp. I realized, then, that I missed being "out there" with no sense of confinement. It also occurred to me that that is why I often (when paddling alone...but I digress) like to paddle out a ways onto Lake Michigan, face east (off shore) and just sit. If the wind is in my face, so much the better as it keeps the sound from the city away. So, I just sit and take in the vastness of the horizon and, all at once, I feel small but part of something huge. After a while, I paddle back to shore...and go home to my house.

Paddle safe...


Monday, November 19, 2007

Paddling with the Professor

I've written before of my love of teaching and my respect for all my teachers. I've also written about Gary who taught me my first roll and continues to work with me on my forward stroke. I call him professor because of his dedication to studying the forward stroke, his dedicated practice habits and his excellent teaching methods. I was, I admit, disappointed a few years back when Gary turned to racing and no longer thought of himself as a sea kayaker (his words...but I digress) (he is also a dedicated linguistic student, and it drives him nuts when I digress withing parenthesis...which is redundant digressing...but I digress). On with the story at hand.

Yesterday, as our usual Sunday morning gang assembled, there appeared an old and welcome site. That Romany could only mean that the professor was back. And, so he was. And, what a joy for me to paddle along with him, constantly mindful of my forward stroke technique and keeping up with the maestro. I was like a high school kid anxious to show his teacher that lessons had been studied and were being applied in the field...or, in this case, on the water.
Welcome back, Gary...and thanks for being one of my teachers.

Paddle Safe...


Sunday, November 18, 2007

Dreary Days...
Good Paddling

Yesterday we had a nice off shore wind stirring the lake a bit. It was overcast, and there was a drizzle of rain at times. The paddling was good enough to provide two rescues. Today looks to be the same for our Sunday morning get together as the wind will be out of the east (we being inhabitants of the western shore...but I digress).

We've been having 3-4 footers, but they don't roll in as they would in the open ocean. They are closer together and confused because of the shape of the shoreline around here. We have a large concave shaped natural harbor in Milwaukee. More over, a series of break water walls help to create clapotis waves on the out side.

So, for the foreseeable future it is dreary skies, wet rides and dry suits.

Paddle safe...


Saturday, November 17, 2007

The Pro B9180

I can see old Derrick seeing that title and wondering how in heck I scooped him on a new kayak model. Scooped him? Lord knows he hasn't even heard of the B9180 (actually, knowing his wide range of interests, he may know exactly of what I speak...but I digress). Well, relax, it isn't even a kayak. It's a HP printer that I bought for high end prints.

The thing is built like a tank and often sounds like one as it aligns paper and printing heads. It is unreal how this boxy looking printer can sound like a factory that smelts steel yet produce beautiful and subtle prints. The pic above is of the mantel in the family room. Several of the prints are on 13" X 19" stock. The software is complicated, and I still am working to get the best out of the machine.

On Another Note...a follow up

That boat run aground that I posted on a few days back is still there. Turns out the guy had worked on it himself. It was his dream boat, and he had planned to sail her across the Atlantic. Considering his navigation skill, and lack there of, the Spirits were kind to him by stopping him before he got too far. Now, the Coast Guard has washed their hands of the wreck as it is not a hazard to navigation. Local authorities have been unable to reach the owner who seems to be in no hurry to salvage her. Apparently (according to one article) the law of salvage (keepers finders) does not apply, although I do not know why. It may be because we are not on the "high seas". Anyway, another reminder to...

Paddle safe...


Friday, November 16, 2007

Getting On With It

Well, this poor craft almost made it through the sailing season. I don't know what happened to cause her to lose her mast. I only hope no one was hurt. Looking at the pic this morning (it is below freezing out there...but I digress) and having paddled yesterday, I know how she feels. Too bad there isn't Aleve for boats.

I am easing into winter with as much grace as I can muster. Yesterday's paddle was solo and surprisingly (to me) pleasant in spite of temps in the 30s and a chill factor below freezing. My neoprene mitts were still damp from a previous outing, and it took a while too warm my hands. I was interested in Michael's posting on the farm gloves he just tried out. I hope he reads Alex's request and posts a picture of them as I've never seen anything like them.

Another sign of winter: the schedule for pool sessions has been posted.

Time to meet JB for coffee. Maybe I will be treated to another of those crisp winter morning sunrises.

Paddle safe...


Thursday, November 15, 2007

Now it really starts

Frost on the pumpkins, and lawns and ground. Nights with temps down to freezing, days where it doesn't make it to 50F. Cold weather is here and will be for a while. All the stuff we talk about that relates to cold weather now becomes serious. Mother Nature doesn't suffer fools.

The cotton T-shirt crowd beware, you can't survive out there. The weekend fair-weather paddler beware, you will soon be paddling with ice covering your deck lines. The I-never- practiced-in-rough-water-paddler, stay ashore. Getting back into an ice-covered boat after immersing in freezing water with three foot waves is not as simple as doing it in a swimming pool. More than ever...

Paddle safe...


Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Man's Best Friend

Ansel has been with us about ten years and is, in dog years, about my age. I know how he feels. Yesterday, he had a cyst removed from his neck, and the surgery was done under general anesthetic. All went well.

After I had dropped him at the vet's for his procedure, I was walking out and realized how worried I was about a dog his age have anesthesia. After he came home late yesterday, he was dopey, dull and somewhat confused. I was more worried. Had he had a stroke or was this just post anesthetic haze? His voice was raspy, and I suspect he had a sore throat from the intubation tube. I was worried that he would try to scratch the sutures, so I have rigged a bandanna to cover the area.

This morning on his walk he kept stopping and staring and seemed not to want to go on. When I turned back toward home he stepped right out. Back at the house, he finally gobbled treats after not having eaten all yesterday.

I plan to stay home and watch him all day (Lady Linda is away, I am in charge...but I digress). That's what you do for a good friend...and members of the family.

Paddle safe...


Tuesday, November 13, 2007

500...and counting

I always thought that this would be a special posting, something pithy and wise that captured the melancholy of wonderful memories. I refer to the fact that either yesterday's or today's posting is number 500. Then I remembered: before enlightenment chop wood and carry water. after enlightenment chop wood and carry water. It is, in the end, just another posting.

It is fun, however, to muse over the diversity of drivel, wisdom and BS I've managed to spew in all those epistles. Kayaking, to be sure, has been woven through many if not most of them. There has been some stuff on photography, the environment, messy garages, Qajaq camp, traditional paddling, camping trips, Lady Linda, children and grandchildren and other individuals.

For over a year now I've woken early, petted Ansel and awakened the computer to put some thoughts to bytes (or, pen to paper...but I digressed). I've rambled, pointed out, pontificated and digressed my way through the important and the inane. Many of you, in turn, have been kind enough to respond with your thoughts while I, in turn, have read many of your blogs and loved them.

But, as I say, it is just another day and another post, and I will continue to chop wood and mess up the garage. I will celebrate this day by taking Ansel to the vet for some surgery (a cyst on his neck which he scratches at and makes bleed) and lunch with JB. Clearly the theme here is medical since JB is an EMT, I mentioned the vet and you know my background. And so, dear reader, we have made it through another posting without causing harm while avoiding excessive use. See you tomorrow?

Paddle safe...


Monday, November 12, 2007

The Long and Short Of It

As most of you know, the main determinate of how fast a displacement hull will go is the length of its water line (LWL). Most sail boats with top out at about 1.4 x the square root of LWL. So, my Romany at 16 feet will not go as fast as the Romany Explorer at 17.5 feet.

That is about top or hull speed. In reality, each boat has a cruising speed which is less than its hull speed. This is the speed at which a decent paddler can keep the boat moving with efficiency and reasonable effort (how's that for precision?). To get the boat to go faster than cruising speed and approach or reach hull speed takes far more additional energy than just paddling at cruising speed. This to point out how hard I have to work to keep up with the other children when I paddle in a group. Their cruising speed is close to my hull speed, and I have to work like a steam engine if I don't wish to be left behind. There is a point to all this (which I pray I can sell to Lady Linda...but I digress).

A retired man my age, a father, a grandfather and a veteran should not have to work that hard to stay up with the group (I can almost hear you yelling "right on " and "you tell 'em Silbs" in agreement). The Universe is clear on this and is virtually shouting to my soul, Silbs, get a longer boat. And whom, I ask, am I to deny manifest destiny?

So, I have been paddling any longer boat whose owner will allow. I was in JB's Explorer one day, Doug's Impex that's named after an island with horses and sounds dirty when said too fast, and Tim's Force 4. All were good boats, and all had their own characteristics. So far, the Explorer stands out as it handles so much like my Romany. I still need to take an Acuta for a spin along with a Nordkapp and Outer Island. The search goes on.

Paddle safe...


Sunday, November 11, 2007

Forty Years and counting

40 years ago I was living in SE Asia. I was in the Air Force, and there was a war going on. I didn't know her at the time, but Lady Linda was in Madison, Wisconsin protesting the war. Mean while, I and my comrades were gritting our teeth over how the fiasco was being mismanaged and getting us killed (that is fact, not a political statement. I don't do politics...I just digress a lot). Every now and then, on the Discovery Military Channel, I see footage of some the guys with whom I flew. It is actually combat ootage of our F-105s, and it makes me feel numb to see it. I usually don't watch it any more. It seems like another life time.

Fast forward to today. I live in Wisconsin, I am a civilian, and there are still wars going on. In fact, there are always wars going on and, as was said on M*A*S*H, wars are where old men send young men to die. Well, I know something about those young men, and women, I have been one of them.

Each generation says that the younger folks don't have what it takes and that there will never be brave men and women willing to serve in the military. Certainly not like our generation. That's what they all say...and they are all and always wrong. Some how each generation produces young people willing to put on a uniform and go to the ends of the earth and serve in the military. Some how, despite how you or I may feel about a war, each generation produces its heroes, those individuals willing to put in on the line for another soldier, air man, sailor or marine. Right now, as I adjust the thermostat in my house, there our young Americans serving in all corners of the globe and under all sorts of unpleasant circumstances. I pray that they all return safe and intact.

During each generation these same men and women come home, take off the uniform and become civilians and are honored with the title veteran. Unless you ask, you may never know that you are talking to or working next to a vet. Unless you hear their stories you will never be able to imagine what they may have been through. Hell, you won't be able to imagine it even after you hear their stories. You just had to be there, and they were. So, if you bump into one of these folks, it wouldn't take but a few minutes to shake their hand and thank them for their service...regardless of your personal politics. Then pray that our sons and daughters and grand children will not have a war to fight....and know, damn well, that they will.

Paddle safe...


Saturday, November 10, 2007

A New Medical Syndrome

In medicine we speak of the sine quo non, the one sign without which the diagnosis is not made. When you do have the sign or signs the diagnosis is almost certain. Above, in an elegant yet deceptively simple photograph, we see the sine quo non of impending winter. Since it consists of 3 distinct parts that occur together we can use another medical term: syndrome. So, we have the Impending Winter Syndrome (IWS).

To begin, the tree on the left nicely shows the arboreal nudity which is a key factor in the syndrome. Second, the slips are empty (slipitis vacuous). Finally, the boats are ashore and shrouded in shrink wrap, much like mummies laid away after their useful life is over (hullus domesticus terminus restus). There you have it. Now, what about treatment?

The prognosis, based on a series of 65 consecutive winters, is believed to be good. Taking aspirin and calling me every morning will only aggravate things, and you will just have to be patient until the entire syndrome runs its course. There are, however, signs which you can watch for, signs that will indicate the reversal of this sad state.

1, Budus proliferans: the tree will begin to get dressed again. 2, Hullus occupationous: boats will begin to appear in the slips (and on moorings...but I digress). And, finally, 3, Excoriation wrapess: the white shrink wrap will be ripped from the boats by frenzied men suffering another syndrome seen this time of year...claustraphobia non marinas. They should have kayaked.

Paddle safe...


Friday, November 09, 2007

Leave No Trace?

No, this isn't a result of global warming (although that river bed is filthy with PCBs...but I already digress), it is just the bed of the local river lowered in anticipation of winter ice. When I came upon this scene (while walking Ansel) I found myself wondering who had left the tracks. I'm not even sure what kind of tracks they are. They don't hurt anything and will eventually be covered and obliterated when the river rises in spring. Still, they don't look like they belong there...but why?

I guess because they are man made. If they were wolf or animal tracks they would seem right at home and the very same picture would have a very different feel. So what, really, is the difference? After all, this is smack in the middle of a residential park area. Does it offend some idealistic or puritanical idea of what "nature" should look like? Is this some form of elitist snobbery? I really don't know.

I do, however, wonder who left it, where they were going and what happened to them. Bottom line...I have too much time on my hands this morning.

Paddle safe...


Thursday, November 08, 2007

The hard stuff

I remember from my sailing days the old adage that it isn't the water that will get you, it will be the hard stuff around the edges. My cutter had a six-foot draft, and I always had charts for the areas I sailed. Around home, I always avoided the shore line north of the Milwaukee Harbor. This area has always been shallow with boulders just below the surface.

Now, with lake levels low, that area has become a rock garden. Most published charts (at least the ones aboard pleasure vessels...but I digress) do not indicate how shallow much of the coast has become. Apparently, the skipper of this sailboat out of Chicago did not realize how dangerously shallow the water into which he was sailing were. The boat, sails still flailing in the wind, has been as you see her for over a week now. The paper indicates that weather has prevented a salvage operation, but it sure looks calm enough to me. If we wait long enough I am sure a storm will come along and finish her off.

My long years in deep-drafted sailboats has made me ultra conscious of shallows, even when in my kayaks. Perhaps, again, because I was a sailor...and sailors have fond attachments to their boats...I find all displacement hull vessels to be beautiful and to have a charm of their own. The graceful lines of their hulls and the way they cooperate with the water are a wonder to behold. So, I am as careful with my kayaks as I was with my sailboat.

Yes, I drag my kayak ashore, but I make every effort to keep from hitting submerged rocks or other things that could wound her bottom. In any event, sailboat or kayak, I look at that picture and think...that ain't no way to treat a lady.

Paddle safe...


Wednesday, November 07, 2007

A Long Walk...

What's the old joke? Take a long walk on a short pier. I'll pass on the pier, but I do need to take long walks, and I need to do so at a brisk pace. Even if it is on the treadmill. This posting is for me. When I think to do something I am not terribly likely to follow through. When I tell another person it becomes more likely that I will. When I tell you all...well, it is going to happen (I hope...and digress).

I was a marathon runner not too many years ago when a ruptured disc took out some nerves and left my left thigh permanently weakened. I was unable to run further than 25 yards. My level of exercise fell dramatically until I found kayaking, but it hasn't been enough. Where I used to have a resting heart rate of 50 (35-40 during sleep), I now seldom have rates below 70...and that alone is a risk factor for heart disease and diabetes. At my age, I need to act and to act now.

So, I've committed to walking some on every day I don't paddle. I will start slowly and build up to an hour of brisk walking. When weather is bad...and I mean lots of snow that makes it hard to use the bum leg...I will do the walk on a treadmill. Enough said.

Good to see JB posting again. He is a source of common sense and tons of knowledge in navigation and the business end of the business. His blog today is universally timely.

Time to brew the coffee (okay, so it's instant) and stretch out my back. Not paddling today, but there was something else I was going to do. If only I could remember.

Paddle safe...


Tuesday, November 06, 2007


It's an awfully noisy world in which we live. Traffic, radios, TVs, people yelling into cell phones, airplanes and on and on. Even on the lake an offshore breeze often carries the sound of modern life across the water and for amazing distances. There is almost no where one can go to escape the sound of a bazillion tires rubbing against miles of roads. It wasn't always like that.

The Greenland style skin on frames were built to be quiet, to be unseen and to move with stealth. The paddle, when properly used, produces little if any sound. All this was essential for hunting which required getting close to unwary prey. Today, however, there is another need for quiet, at least there is for me.

My soul seeks it, sometimes in meditation, sometimes in camping and sometimes in just taking a quiet walk alone. A solo paddle, when the wind is on shore, can bring a unique serenity to my world. It calms me and lowers my blood pressure. And, like the Inuit who hunts for his food, I sometimes have privy to scenes in which I would not have been welcomed had I not approached with quiet respect.

Paddle safe...


Monday, November 05, 2007

Group "Integrity"

It's like herding cats, and it drives me batty. Especially when I am the group leader. A group starts out (yesterday, in the pic above, there were 9 of us...but I digress) and, like random chaotic movement under a microscope, each paddler seeks out their little section of the water. Soon they are too far apart to hear a cry for help or even a whistle.

This is even more so at symposiums where paddlers of all levels self-assess themselves to be intermediate or expert practitioners of the sport and go out in a gaggle of mayhem. Some take off at 4+knots while (and there is always one of these) a small group forms to gossip and does little more than drift along. And the leaders let it happen!

When one of our group goes over you can be sure that the conditions are somewhat challenging. Throw in the dropping water temps, and it becomes apparent that a paddler would be anxious to get back into their boat and be upright. Now, throw in 4 foot waves and a separation of...oh say...30 yards, and you won't see me go over in such a setting. If you do, can you find me? And how long will it take for you to get over to me?

This problem tends to sort out in our group by each of us having at least one partner who stays in our back yard. Yesterday, when I was taking pics like the one above, JB and Doug (I noticed) eased off and waited until I caught up again. That's awareness and the beginning of integrity in a group.

Paddle safe...


Saturday, November 03, 2007

L'Dor L'va Dor

I wasn't going to post this weekend, just too lazy and void of thought. Then I caught up on Derrick's post on aging. In it he talks about what advise he has given his children and how he looks at growing old. All good stuff.

As you all know, teaching is my passion, and I believe that the main job of adults (the older even more so...but I digress) is to teach. Most do without even being aware of it, because we teach the young most often by example. Those young(er) eyes are upon us. Whether it is a newer paddler or a young person learning to make choices, they absorb what they see their elders/more experienced people do...and they internalize it and make it their own.

When the teaching is a bit more focused and conscientious, we call it mentoring; and this is something we can all do, regardless of age. Pass on what you know in a good way, and behave yourself. The children are watching.

Oh, the title. It translates: from generation to generation.

Paddle safe...


Friday, November 02, 2007

I Stood In Bed

Usually, I am in bed early and early to rise (I plan to sue Ben Franklin for false claims...but I digress). By 4;30...6:00 at the latest...I am up and about. Today, I stood in bed until 8 a.m., even though I had gone to bed at my usual time. Maybe I needed the sleep. Maybe I knew, without looking, that there was frost on the ground. Maybe I was hibernating.

That expression...stood in bed...may be local or universal. I'm not sure. I do know that around here Milwaukee-speak still exists. It consists of phrases and words conjured by the German and Polish immigrants who first populated the area. For instance, you can hear the work "ain't" all over the country. It essentially means "isn't". Here, you can hear "ainna" meaning "isn't it so". It is usually used when one seeks affirmation for a statement. Example: that's a neat kayak, ainna?

Then there is "jeet" meaning "did you eat?". Example: Jeet lunch?

The scholars often use "Guzinta" which has nothing to do with sneezing. Example: 5 guzinta 10 twice.

Originally a friendly town, one used to hear, "Why don't you hello me, you know me so easy?"

Anyway, I'm up now.

Paddle safe...


Thursday, November 01, 2007

Going It Alone...Again

I and others have written about this before, and it seems we do so in response to yet another tragedy. As of yesterday, a paddler is missing off Waukegan (North of Chicago...but I digress). His kayak was found floating off shore. He had gone out alone.

Sea Kayaker Magazine just arrived and reports a similar event off California. The president of a local kayak club went out alone. His kayak and body were found floating along his usual route. In this instance we have some additional info that is disconcerting. To begin, he wore an ill-fitting wet suit that allowed water to circulate between his skin and the neoprene. Since the wet suit depends on a THIN film of water that stays with the person, he probably became hypothermic and did so quickly.

His paddle float was on his paddle suggesting a self-rescue attempt. We know, however, that he had taken a course 3 years before, was never very good at the technique and hadn't really practiced it since. He probably never tried it in the windy conditions in which he found himself that day.

Sadly, he had planned to paddle with a group but because of a delay ended up going out alone...for the last time. We've already debated and will continue to debate the inherent risk of paddling alone. It's dangerous, and I do it all the time. I do it because I often cannot find a partner with whom to paddle. When I do, I religiously go through my "preflight" rituals. I watch the weather closely, and I choose my battles carefully. There are conditions in which I thoroughly enjoy playing but would not do so alone. In the end, we each make our own decisions on this. In the end, alone or in a group, we are each responsible for ourselves...and one another.

Paddle safe...