Monday, March 31, 2008

Filaria Nematodus Marinas
(See yesterday's blog)

As a life-long boater who has owned many fiber glass hulls (sailboats and kayaks), I was fascinated by a recent phone conversation with an old friend now working in a marina biology research lab (see yesterday's blog re: confidentiality). It is no secret that ocean going ships have brought us many foreign and unfriendly organisms via their bilge water. Many of them are now pests threatening the great lakes and the marine life there in. This new information, however, may not be a threat to marine life forms as much as to man-made boats. Especially glass hulls.

The marine biology community has long been aware of very deep water organisms with unusual abilities. Most of these specimens, gathered by various bathyspheres and deep diving devices, are of scientific interest but of no practical concern. Until this came along. As was explained to me: in late 2004 a water specimen taken deep in the Pacific near one of the vents that gives off hot and noxious gas contained several one celled and nearly microscopic structures previously unknown to science. Among these was a nematode (flat worm)-like creature that did not fit anything previously known. Although flattened, it had a slightly spiral shape to it and seemed able to flourish only in deep, dark waters near these vents. Most specimens perished shortly after being brought to the surface.

Last year, however, one such specimen survived in the lab in salt water at surface temperatures. Analysis indicate that it was, in fact, a mutant of the original specimens and that the organism reproduced rapidly (I have no idea how they could tell this). This ability to mutate and reproduce apparently made it a fascinating lab subject for researchers who have been studying it ever since. All very interesting, but so what?

It turns out that this unusual life form can also survive in toxic least toxic to us and most known marine life forms. More over, it contains unusual enzyme systems that are described as sophisticated for such a relatively low form. It was when they just happen to use some synthetic containers to house the experiments that they learned some of these enzymes could actually "digest" or breakdown some synthetic materials. This is an amazing find since one would not expect such an animal to have chemicals or enzymes to deal with substances with which it does not normally contact. What is truly disturbing is the fact that one of the substances this creature can denature is very similar to the resin found in fiberglass structures.

Now, before you panic, I was reassured that this animal does not naturally exist near our shores or in any of our inland lakes or great lakes. What concerned my friend (and his colleagues) was that, with its ability to mutate and adapt, this organism just might become a nightmare to us, regardless of where we live/paddle.

And, all the time, I thought crime and crashing surf were my greatest fear. Still, you must admit this is a fascinating find. As my friend is able/willing to tell me more, or when something gets published on this, I will pass it on.

Paddle Safe...

Dragging My Caboose

I cannot believe how much the driving, the interruption in daily routine, the early hour bottles and the endless diaper changes have taken out of me. Had a hard time falling asleep, but I finally got in 8 hours. Still, I am dragging. I do, on the other hand, have wonderful memories of a weekend with Joseph, my daughter and my son in law. Oh yes, there are the some 200+ images I have to go through to find the winners.

On another note, I just had a phone conversation with a friend of mine (whom, for reasons that will become apparent, I cannot name) who works at a marine biology facility (which, for reasons of a promise I cannot name). They are onto something new, and he said he would let me in on a little of it later this afternoon. I don't know exactly what is going on, but he indicated it had something to do with a marine microbe and, knowing my interest in boats over the years, he was sure I'd be interested...although not necessarily happy about their discovery. More as soon as I know more.

Paddle safe...


Saturday, March 29, 2008

Great Water Scenery

Even here, in Cincinnati and f ar from the big waters, there is great scenery. I will be here with Joseph and those two adult with whom he lives until tomorrow.

Paddle safe...


Thursday, March 27, 2008

I am Disappearing
kind of
sort of
Actually, I am disappearing from the Milwaukee area. The car is ready, and I am headed to Cincinnati to see my grandson, Joseph. I will make every effort to post while away and as the muse moves me; but, just now, I am so looking forward to seeing him.

On another note: Some time ago I posted that I was going to try to attempt to lose weight. The inactivity of the winter and the medicating with food was becoming too much. Well, I was 178 when I posted that. This morning the scale dipped below 170 for the first time in a while. I weighed 162 in high school and would at least like to see how things look at 165. So about 8 pounds of me has disappeared.

Hey, I gotta' go.

Paddle safe...

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Things could change...
No, this isn't about the weather. It's about my...well, my life, and it started yesterday with a message on my answering machine. It seems that there is a need (in a city north of here) for a part time cardiologist. The job description fits my previous searches perfectly. Monday through Friday, no night call, no procedures (I've done thousands of heart caths and have had enough x-ray exposure, thank you). While it is true that I would have a drive of several hours to get there and would be away from home, there are other positives aspects with this possibility.

To begin, I would be back in the game (that could be both good and, on the other hand, tiresome). I do some educational work now, but do miss the stimulation of practice. More than that, I miss the patients, and I miss the sense of feeling useful that practicing medicine can provide in a way like no other.

Secondly, the assignment is in good paddling country. I would have my evenings free, and the daylight will go well into the late hours for several months. Finally, it is an area to which Lady Linda could find things to do should she decide to accompany me for a week.

I can do as many or as few weeks a month as I wish (if this all pans out), so I would not have the old fear of loss of control of my life. During my years in practice I was on 24/7 and literally could not go to the bathroom without a phone or beeper. Planning anything became a mocking torture as I never knew when the alarm would go off and send me rushing to the hospital to open a clogged coronary artery.

Part of me fears even the loss of a little of the freedom and free time to do as I wish, when I wish. It is, in the end, a trade off, but one I am considering strongly. I will know more in a few days. So, for now, I will go paddling today. After all, it's my day off.

Paddle safe...


Tuesday, March 25, 2008

This Too Shall Pass
It actually started before Sunday when I got out to paddle with Bob, and everything since then has fed it. After paddling, Doug showed up with maps and literature he had gathered at Canoecopia. At coffee the other day, JB spread out maps of the Upper Peninsula, and we began to ponder where we might camp and paddle between symposiums. Camp sites are being reserved, and groups are making plans.

Spring is reality, not just on the calendar. Warmth will happen. Mother Nature will do it all over, and she will do it all over us. I (you, we) have gotta' believe. It's what keeps us going as the last tenacious days of winter try one last time to tear out our souls and freeze our butts.

Soon, it will be warm and, with no freezing temps to bitch about, and I will begin to worry about how fast the summer is going.

Paddle safe...


Monday, March 24, 2008

Hurray For Our Side (I think)(Bob, on another cold morning)
BTW, that expression, about our side, was first shouted by the folks on the other side of the road as Lady Godiva rode by. Now, about the hurray.

It's on the radio and in the papers here today. Unless someone out there is very old (like 130 years), there is no one alive around here that has seen a winter with more snow fall than the one we're having now. Isn't that special? Less mentioned were the endless days of sub-freezing temps and what it has done to this winter's paddling opportunities.

Not one to waste an opportunity, two of us (Bob and I) got out on Lake Michigan yesterday for a relaxed paddle. As we were both over fifty (and one over 65), we spent the first half of the paddle complaining about stiffness, aches and pains. At the turn around, we poked into the open waters, felt the gentle surge and decided we were cured. The ride back was splendid and mind-healing.

Hurray for the two of us.

Paddle safe...

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Bad Rehearsal...
Good show

I took the canvas SOF to the pool last night. I used the usual Greenland stick. I also tried one of Doug's Impex boats (I cannot spell those names...but I digress). I did some rolling in both. It wasn't a good night as everything I did felt like crap.

I felt like I was muscling the boat and using much too much paddle and not enough hip. My muscles were protesting even though they hadn't done much. There was no sense of accomplishment.

This morning my traps ache, it is 26F with a promise of 32. The sun isn't quite up or is hiding in the clouds, and I am debating if I want to make the group paddle scheduled about 3 hours from now. I am going to get the morning paper (I read the funnies and the editorials and can't tell them apart), have something to eat and then decide whether or not to shlep the equipment out of the garage. I do know that, should I go, I will be taking the Romany and a Euro paddle. I would be going mainly to see if last night got the gremlins out of my system.

Paddle safe...


Saturday, March 22, 2008

Thanks Greg:
If you check the previous post and Greg's comment: Here is another pic he took of me that same launch...

Adam, who writes the other blog is a good guy and has, in fact talked to me (via e mails) about using some of my images...DS
Imagine My Surprise

When I went to this site and read a fine article on making paddles.

The surprise was the picture was of I'd used on my blog in the past. While imitation is supposed to be the height of flattery, I wondered how it had gotten there. A lot of photographers stamp PROOF over their pictures or post them with so few pixels so they cannot be copied. Most of us, when asked, are happy to share a photo (and ask for a mention of who took it). Hmmmmmmmmmm. The caption claims I am using a certain brand of paddle, but it is, in fact, a Mitchel.

Paddle safe...

Friday, March 21, 2008

Maybe Next Tuesday
What A Difference a Day Makes

It's the old and corny thing you always hear around here about how, last year, summer was on a Tuesday. Well, that ain't so funny anymore. We had the first day of spring (according to the calendars, meteorologists and psychics). I even saw a deranged robin in the bush behind the house. What was he (or she) thinking? Yesterday saw temps in the 40'sF, and the sun shone brightly. It is now 12 hours later.

The big blue spot on the radar is converging over our little area in the Midwest. Snow has already dusted my driveway (and the Blazer that lives on the street). They tell us we could get another 15 inches of snow and that there may even be "thunder snow" later today. Well kiss my snow blower.

My two days of paddling this week were like giving a hemorrhaging patient a transfusion of blood from a patient with anemia. It helped, but it wasn't nearly enough. So now, all of us in these parts (all of us who paddle...but I digress) have to get out the phone list and arrange yet another meeting of the local Summer will Happen In Time support group...and, it better.

Paddle safe...


Thursday, March 20, 2008

His Magic Thingamajig

Roy was at Canoecopia and, as usual, he had his latest gizmo with him. I knew he had developed a Greenland paddle that utilized one of the commercial paddling company's joints to fashion a take apart paddle. In fact, I believe that Mark Rodgers produces them at Superior Kayak.This time, however, he had a 5 (5, count 'em, 5) part paddle housed in a roll up bag. It had a hefty feel and allowed for different sized looms for different paddlers. Clever, yes. Traditional? Well, not in the traditional sense of the word. I do wonder if there is a market for such an idea.

Paddle safe...

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Gunk Holes
It's a term that I learned as a sailor, and it refers to those snug little places where one can sneak into and anchor or explore the shore. I believe it is a New England expression as that is where the shoreline undulates and offers many protected coves for exploration or as a place to drop anchor for the night. In any event, the bigger the boat, the bigger the gunk hole needs to be. Enter the trusty kayak.

For the second day in a week (this year's out door record...but I digress), I was able to get out on the lake, this time alone. I took a Greenland stick and my trusty Romany with the intention of goofing around, practicing strokes and gently testing my rotator cuff. The ice in the harbor had begun to break up, and large chunks floated about creating the equivalent of gunk holes.

It was a pleasant paddle during which I had the place to myself, forgot about the city ashore and poked around to my heart's content. It should always be so nice.

Paddle safe...


Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Note: I just learned that my article in the Masik, the QAJAQ journal, is online. See one, Teach one.
It's a wrap
I admit it. Having been off the water for so long, I milked Canoecopia for topics. So, here is (probably) the last post on that event.
It was great. There were presentations on all sort of paddling topics. You just took one for column A and one from column B and....There were reps working really hard.

Some with advanced degrees.

There were husbands at risk.

There was so much to see that folks had to strategize in order to see everything.

And...there was the next generation of paddlers.

Finally, it is done.

Paddle safe...


Monday, March 17, 2008

When The Asylum Doors
Swung Open

It was a sight that could make grown men cry. Fortunately, there were no grown men around. Just Greg, Doug and myself. South Shore launch site was open, the governor had called, the court had acquitted, our case for habeas corpus had been won, the asylum doors had opened...we could launch our kayaks onto Lake Michigan. Praise the Lord!Having been so long off the water and so excited to be back on it, Greg forgot to wait for his boat. And, when he became clear that he had forgotten a good deal of his technique...such as sitting in the cockpit.
Doug, equally inane with joy, eschewed the boat entirely in his haste to reunite with the liquid form of H2O.Eventually, he calmed down and realized he had to paddle if he was going to make forward progress.And me? I was just glad to feel the ache in my shoulders as invisible chunks of ice slammed against the Romany's hull. There is hope for us all.

Paddle safe...

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Images & Random ThoughtsCanoecopia, like most gatherings, holds an interest for me that goes beyond the original intent of the affair. Sure, I was into and enjoying the boat stuff and related gear. On the other hand, there was lots of color, eye candy and interesting visuals. For instance: lots of boats were displayed on top of various cars. I observed that (with the exception of a certain Nordkapp) most lookers were looking at the cars, not the boats on them.And there were kids everywhere. Some busying themselves with what ever...Some displaying their own unique style...And, of course, there were the endless shirts with their philosophical announcements...(bottom line: Let me know when you find it)

I still have some ramblings to get out, but I will save them for another time. Back Monday.

Paddle safe...

Friday, March 14, 2008

Cookies Too!
During the time our two daughters were growing up our house was always full of kids. We were, it seemed, one of the few homes where there was always an adult. In fact, there were usually two.In spite of my medical practice, I practically never missed dinner with the family (on the other hand, I was often gone most of the nights...but I digress).

Some of the children would sit and tell me about their day and what they had done in school. One or two began addressing me as "Dad" which was both flatterring and disconcerning. It told me that some of the other parents in the area were not home as much as their children would have liked them to be. I hope that by Lady Linda and I sort of filling in that we provided a good model of family life.

In any event, I once again had the fun of experiencing the energy of a group of young ladies as the Girl Scouts' cookie table was next to our symposium desk.Full of delightful energy, and in constant motion, their exuberance made the long hours on my feet more tolerable. The groups had short shifts, so we got to see a lot of them. I did note that there was always a few moms there to supervise these happy young people. On another note, I believe they sold a lot of cookies. I know that I saw them eating their share. Youth, is it wasted on the young?

Paddle safe...

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Bottom Line
They came by the hundreds, maybe thousands, to look at equipment, to gather touring info, to see old friends and to hear presentations by paddlers whom they've read about in kayaking magazines. At the end of the day, however, it was about business. After all, this is the largest show of its kind, and it takes an incredible "machine" to make it work. Hats off to Rutabaga for another great happening and to Nancy (head of the ROP program...and my boss) for pulling it all off.I am sure there are many like me sitting home and reliving the event through photos and brochures. Some, unlike me, are reliving it by going through their check book and asking, "What the hell happened?"Paddle safe...


Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Sam Crowley
Sam has long been known to us around here as the ACA examiner of instructor candidates. He was the lead on the team (often with JB) that took many of us through IDW and ICE. From the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, Sam is a partner in Sea Kayak Specialists in Marquette, Michigan and frequents Lake Superior.
He is now famous, of course, for his circumnavigation of Ireland during which he sampled the wares of many a pub. At the recent Canoecopia, Sam gave one of the most informative, entertaining and engaging presentations I have ever attended. His wonderful humor (delivered with the timing that is the envy of late night talk show hosts) and his power point presentation kept held our attention throughout the all too short hour.

Using maps and images he took along the way, he related bits history, geography, seamanship, navigation and an intimate look into the people of the land.

If you missed it, I am sorry. I do hope we will be seeing more of him in this role. Truly a talented man, in many ways.

Paddle safe...

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

If you are at all into traditional rolling you are probably a member of QAJAQ and know who Dubside is and what he does. If not, you may not know this interesting one-name fellow who is the founder of guerrilla kayaking.If he passed you on the street, you would note a somewhat short fellow, dressed all in black (including a head scarf) with a scruffy beard. He will almost always be wheeling his "luggage" along with him. Actually, that's his folding kayak. Dubside doesn't have a car but, rather, takes his boat on the local bus to some launch site where he assembles his kayak and does his thing; and his thing is something to behold.

Don't let his appearance fool you. He is a soft spoken man with a gentle handshake, and he is strong as a bull. If you are not familiar with Greenland rope exercises you may never have seen a man lift his weight off the ground back and forth over the ropes...with one finger. Not only can Dubside do that, but he has won the Greenland ropes championship (in Greenland, of course). But his true forte' (for us admirers) is his rolling abilities.

Dubside, as he points out in his DVD (Greenland Rolling with Dubside...Volume One available at practices yoga to get the flexibility that has allowed him to wow us time and time again, as he did at Canoecopia this past weekend. (He told us that Vol. 2 will be out soon).
In a small pool, he gave a demo of amazing control including rolling without putting out a hand held candle (he also did it with a brick in the other hand). Personal, I loved the way the non traditionalists bought his explanation of the air scull. In that maneuver the paddle sticks straight up out of the water and sculls only in air as Dubside essentially does a roll using the torque of his lower body. Before doing it, however, he took time to tell us how the paddle used the air the same way it does when in the water. Sure.

If you see that name again (it's Dubside), and he's doing a demo, don't miss it. The 100 of us lucky enough to get into the pool venue were, as always, treated to a sight of incredible skill and good humor.

Paddle safe...



Monday, March 10, 2008

It's Over and... It Was GreatCongratulations to Rutabaga and "Boss" Nancy on another great Canoecopia. Still recovering from long hours on my feet, I will, during the upcoming week, be posting pictures and comments on my impressions of the event. It was, of course, mostly (for me) about boats. But is was about dreaming and wishing, as well.For some, it was a new experience, perhaps their first with a kayak.For many, it was a family affair, or a chance to hang with DadThere was something for everyone, and I'll point some of that out this week.

Paddle safe...

Friday, March 07, 2008

Thursday, March 06, 2008

As I was Saying
I've used this picture before, and I've ranted about fuel prices before; and look how much good it's done me. In any event, things have not improved and, if anything, are worse and getting more so. Now, I've said that this is not and will never be a place for politics, and I do not plan to change that. Science, on the other hand, is always fair grist for this mill. With that in mind, let's chat about the science of ethanol.

For those of you who have lived in isolation for the past decade, ethanol is (as are most words in chemistry that end in -ol) an alcohol. It is made from grains, mainly corn, and is slowly being introduced into our automotive fuel to, supposedly, improve pollution. What we have here is a case of incredibly bad science and politics (I use the P word for compositional purposes only).

1. Ethanol is made from corn and, since recent laws governing its use have been passed, the price of corn has done nothing but go up.

2. One effect of #1 is an increased cost to raise cattle. Right now, farmers are reducing the size of their herds and, when that has been done, we can expect the price of meat to soar.

3. As it turns out, ethanol is, at best, not the greatest thing to burn in your engine.

4. Because of the processing and transportation involved, ethanol apparently ends up increasing pollution.

5. As the price of gasoline goes up, it is harder for some of us to do trips or drive to Madison to a net loss.

So, why are we having ethanol foisted upon us? Well, as I've always told my daughters...when something doesn't make sense, the answer is money. Someone somewhere is spreading an awful lot of it around to make this misdirected effort happen. Who? Well, if I discussed that I would be talking politics, and I don't do that.

Paddle safe...

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Clean Up The Pole...
Ready The Soul

Sometimes you just have to believe. In this instance, I have to believe that winter has just about run its course and that spring weather will happen sooner than later. Using that thought in lieu of antidepressants and expensive cruises, I will now adjust my mind set and prepare for the inevitable and wonderful weather that is just around the corner. I will prepare my soul for the new season just as the road workers will prepare this winter-battered pole. I declare today the first day of the rest of my strife (you may groan here).

So, first the pole will require some scraping and sanding. Workers will be preparing the tools they will need to get the pole back as close to new as they can. I, on the other hand, need to get the mental tools ready along with my kit. Step one for me, go to Canoecopia this weekend. Hang with JB, Derrick and some of the other bloggers who have said they will be there. Buy something, anything, to get the blood and cash flowing toward paddling. My mind, I realize, may be my best tool for the job, so this ain't going to be easy.

Next, they will paint that pole, and I will clean up the boats that haven't been used very much lately. I need to tighten the deck lines on the Romany and get the canvas SOF rinsed with a weak bleach solution...unless, of course, I take it to the last pool session.

OK, so the analogy is weak (as is the writing this morning), but it is all I have to keep me afloat until I can float my boat.

Paddle safe...

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Food For Thought...
concluding thoughts

Yesterday's blog on taking care of one another on the water has generated many thoughtful comments and even some off line e mails. So, it was nice to hear from a local paddler who is both a certified instructor and an attorney. He offered some excellent thoughts.

Among them was a reminder how "nice" folks can quickly change and bring a liable suit when someone in their family is injured, especially if it is a young person and/or a bread winner. He took time to go through what an attorney needs to show in order to successfully sue someone in such a situation. While reading his mail, I thought about another aspect of all this.

If you were to be sued, even if you won the litigation, the expense of defending yourself could bankrupt you. ACA (and, I assume, BCU) classes at least have insurance available. Some home owners' also offer coverage for volunteered acts. Still, there is the emotional component of being the subject of such an action.

Those sorts of law suits don't go away in days or even months, but can often drag on and drain one of their enthusiasm. It's all enough to scare the hell out of a person. Now, for me, here is the biggest downside of all. Carrying such a concern can bring paralysis. A paddler of experience and with credentials can become so concerned with it all that the worry becomes the over riding thought when paddling in a group. That's when it stops being fun. That's when some will withdraw from the group only to paddle alone or with other instructors. But what happens if one of those instructors is injured or lost during a group Paddle? Where's the aspirin?

Paddle safe...

Monday, March 03, 2008

Our Brothers' Keepers?
A recent issue of Sea Kayaker Magazine (do you know that spell check does not recognize the word kayaker?...but I digress) reported on the loss of a California paddler. A well known and well liked man in his area, he apparently was not able to get on the water in time to paddle with his group. You also need to know that he was not the most skilled paddler nor did he have excellent self rescue skills. In any event, tragedy ensued, and the man, who chose to go out later and alone, drowned.

In the current issue of the magazine, a reader writes to say that someone in the group should have waited and paddled with the man who eventually was lost. The writer acknowledges the need for us each to have self-sufficient skills but that we also need to act like a group and take care of one another. I agree...and part of me doesn't.

First of all, I don't like to should anyone. Yes, it would have been best if someone had, in fact, waited to paddle with the ill fated man. Yes, we make a habit of looking over one another's gear to check that PFD's are zipped and skirts and hatches sealed. Often, we even suggest to less skilled paddlers that the conditions might not be safe for them. When all is said and done, however, each of us must evaluate our skills, the conditions, the risk to reward ratio and make a go-no-go decision on our own. That's what happened in California. That time, the decision was fatal.

If you want to get into pop psychology and control issues, I suppose you could say that a "needy" paddler, or one that is chronically late and/or ill equipped, can hold a group hostage by making them paddle on his or her terms and times and force the group to accept responsibility for the not-ready-for-prime-time paddler (I, in no way, suggest that this was the case in California).

One of our local instructors once commented on how she felt an onus of responsibility during our informal Sunday morning paddles because there were so few other instructors in the group. It seemed, to her, that there was an unspoken and subtle feeling that those of us who were instructors would assume the lead and be responsible for all the others.

Sadly, the man chose to paddle alone and without adequate skills. Sadly, he was lost. That's really the bottom line, and that's going to continue to happen as long as so many people take to the water in small crafts.

Paddle safe...