Tuesday, June 30, 2009

K.I.S.S.A rose is a rose is a...you know. A rose has it's own natural beauty, and all we have to do is appreciate it. When I wear my photographer's hat, I find that the most important thing is to see. Not just to look, but to see. See the picture and the infinite number of little ones as well. There, in all its simplicity, I find beauty in nature's art, and all I have to do is record it. Simple.

Paddle Safe...

Monday, June 29, 2009

A Few
OdDs & Ends

First the odd: It's Derrick's birthday today. I don't know exactly how old he is, but he certainly has already packed a lot into the years he's lived. A well known blogger and somewhat competent paddler (joking, love this guy), he brings to kayaking a free style creative nature that is apparent in his writing, his conversations and his methods of teaching. I don't know, but he may be color blind or, on the other hand, he is a minimalist who always wears black....and only black. So, if you see him today, be nice to him. What the hell, it's only for a day.
A Shout Out

To the two boiler makers (I know that's a beer with a whiskey shot, but these two went to Purdue) who were kind enough to say hello at the Inland Symposium and compliment these pages. I appreciate it. I enjoyed talking to you two bright, Midwest-educated paddlers with taste.

Now, because Lady Linda is with daughter #1 and her daughter, Squeaky, I must walk His Majesty, Ansel. All those years of schooling and training, and it comes to this. Well, chop wood and carry water. The poop won't pick itself up.

Paddle safe...

Friday, June 26, 2009

Nature's way
Did I Do The Right Thing?

To begin, I tend to believe Nature knows best and should be left to do Her thing. I don't like to see folks feeding the Geese (under the do not feed the birds sign) at our launch site. It screws up the migratory habits of the animals and makes them more dependent upon us. More over, it has increased the resident population of geese and the huge mess they leave on the beach and water. Having said that, here's what happened yesterday as I paddled on the Milwaukee River.

I noticed a lot of fledgling gulls paddling about and unable to fly. Eventually, I came upon one, then another that were clearly water logged and about to drown. I chose to interfere with nature and took them both aboard. They didn't resist in the least. I left them on the only dry area I could reach in hopes of them drying off and surviving. Did I really believe they would survive? Not really, Was I interfering with Nature? Yes. But Nature also selected me to survive and do my thing and, as a human, one of my things is compassion.

Did I do the right thing? I don't know. I know I did the right thing for me.

Paddle safe...


Thursday, June 25, 2009

Herding Cats
It's supposed to be hard to do (the cat thing), but not as hard as getting a group of kayakers to paddle in a tight knit group. Someone is always daydreaming or straying. So, who in their right mind would try to make sense of the chaos seen above much less try to turn them into a precision drill team? Well, Gail and her fine staff would.Unlikely as it appears, this gaggle of paddlers is about to make like a marching band and actually spell something out on the water. But, it didn't just happen. Prior to them taking to the water a bunch of folks were out in the bay laying out lines along which the boats could align. The boats were then organized into groups, and Gail (the cheer leader in charge) bellowed out when each group was needed. Out they paddled in an impressive display of restraint, no one trying to pass anyone else (drugs were not involved, I swear). Soon, it was obvious, even from land level, that they were in lines, but for what reason wasn't clear.
Then, just as planned, a plane appeared overhead (it was one of ours) and made several passes over the group. During some of these fly overs the group demonstrated their enthusiasm by holding up paddles in a brave display of WE DID IT!And, for what? Well, the picture taken from the plane (supplied by gitcheegumeeguy) is to remind everyone of the limits of CO2 (in parts per million, I think) that we might aim at achieving for the planet.
Neat, don't you think (and to available in poster form soon)? And people think we paddlers can't spel.

Paddle safe...

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Man, Himself
One of the attractions to head up to Washburn for the kayak symposium was to meet the one and only Nigel Dennis, the designer of NDK Kayaks, the British prototype of what a lot of companies are putting on the market today. Above, l. to r., is JB, Nigel, What's his name and Ken Ring outside a new store that will handle NDK boats (more on that another day).

As it turns out, Nigel is a soft spoken individual with a ready smile and a good sense of humor. Pretentious, he is not, and one would not even know he was in our midst at most gatherings except for when he was the speaker. He did give a few talks including one on an expedition and another on tides. His understanding of the paddling environment around the U.K. is extensive, and his in-depth talk was a tour de force.But nothing was more impressive (at least to me) than watching how smoothly and efficiently he paddled...yes, in an NDK boat. What's going on behinds Nigel? More on that later.

Paddle safe...

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Post 2 for today: An editorial

I love teaching...any thing...and, like many like me, I have my favorite techniques and methods. What works for one teacher may not work for me. I am intuitive and trust my guts. I listen and watch and get a feel for what the student wants and needs and make every effort to meet that need. Not one size fits all, and there are students with whom I quickly realize I will not have success. I recommend them to other instructors. That said, this past weekend's symposium has brought up for me an axe which I continue to grind: how to teach rolling.

This episode started when an instructor told the rolling students not to expect to roll that day and that it might take a few summers to learn the technique. I could not believe what I was hearing. Translation: you will not roll. Nice mind set for students.

I asked only to work with those students who had never had a rolling lesson or, at least, not a lesson to learn the C-C roll. There were 3 assigned to me.

Right off, I told them that I expected them to roll that day. "It might not happen," I said, "but I expect it to...and, I expect it to be within the hour." I then gave my spiel about how you cannot roll up a kayak and to not use the term hip snap. Then I did my thing with them. Within the hour, all 3 had a roll (one fellow barely, but he could do it if he lay back). I was delighted for the students, and they seemed amazed and pleased with how easy the process actually went. Then, a fellow paddled over, and I heard his wife say, "You should spend some time with him (me)."

The man said he was exhausted. I asked why, and he said it was from the rolling lesson he had just taken. It was to learn the C-C, which he didn't learn. I spent 5 minutes introducing my style, then told him to stay away from any rolling lessons for a while so that his brain could forget what they had been showing him.

I believe the C-C tradition comes from the white water paddlers and that those who teach it tend to be younger and more athletic paddlers. Furthermore, I feel that that roll carries an increased risk of shoulder injuries. Why even bother with it when the modified sweep roll can be learned in 20 minutes?

So, there's my piece. That's what works for me with most students. I realize that others have other effective ways of teaching as well.

Paddle safe...
Instructor Update:
Down to

Serious Business
This business of instructor updates and maintaining skills is a serious business, so we wasted no time getting into the nitty gritty of it all...starting with physical fitness.Once warmed up, the gaggle of instructors made a slow, coordinated (almost military-like) march to the sea (Lake Superior) where they readied themselves for complicated drills.In no time, the universal rule of "boys and girls will be boys and girls" took over as chaos and alpha behavior became the syllabus for part of the afternoon.More to follow.

Paddle safe...

Monday, June 22, 2009

Back from Inland Sea
Sea Kayak Symposium

Just back from the symposium and over 900 miles on the road with JB. Fantastic time but, as I am still swamped with class and exam prep, I will just give a taste here.I want you to know that we instructors work harder than anyone else to hone our skills. So, we started a day and a half early for an instructors' update workshop presented by Living Adventures who puts on the symposium. We discussed new teaching techniques and the ones we need to let go. Then, fearlessly, we launched for an on the water/land navigation exercise.Braving all, we went about finding notes located by headings given to us. Each note took us to the next until we landed on an island and followed instructions there.
Unfortunately, some suffered severe blood loss from the misquitoe attacks on the island.

More as the week goes on.

Paddle safe...

Monday, June 15, 2009

I'm back...I'm gone

Just back form giving my cardiology seminar in San Francisco. Eye dr. appt. this a.m. and exam preparation for the two classes I will be missing this week. Then there some packing and shopping that must be done before JB and I leave early Tuesday for the Inland Sea Kayak Symposium. I probably won't be posting all this week.

Paddle safe...

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Taking a break in here somewhere sometime(me at QAJAQ a few yrs. ago)
I'm feeling the pressure of the schedule I've set for the next few weeks and think, perhaps, I need a break. But from what?

Tonight I am giving a getting into kayaking type talk at a local shop. Tomorrow, as with all Wednesdays, I teach all day. I teach two courses at a nursing school. Normally, each course would consist of classes on two days, so I am giving the equivalent of four lectures each Wednesday. That requires prep time, lots of prep time.

Friday I leave for San Francisco to do my cardiology seminar for Physician Assistants, Nurse practitioners and generalists. I hate the travel, but I love doing the gig and meeting the people.

I will get home late on Sunday and have a few days to prepare second quarter exams for my classes. I will also need to get the exams set up and the material sent to another instructor who has graciously agreed to cover me next week. Why?

JB and I (and some others) are headed to the Inland Sea Kayak Symposium on Lake Superior, about 8 hours north of here (by car). We will likely leave Tuesday evening to cut down on the driving time Wednsday as we are going early to participate in an instructor update led by Nigel Dennis who is coming from across the pond. That will get me back home late that Sunday at which time I need to start prep for that Wednesday's two double lectures.

Bottom line is that I might not have time to post as often, but I shall return once things get back to what we call normal around here.

Paddle safe...

Monday, June 08, 2009

Because It's There
Last weekend, sitting with fellow paddlers outside of Sven's, yakking about this and that, I noticed this window on the adjacent building. Having taken some photos on the water that morning, this attracted me by its color and geometry. So, I photographed it, just because it was there.Had Joe's second birthday party, had my other camera around and he was there as well. If he had it to do all over, he'd do it all over you.

Paddle safe...

Friday, June 05, 2009

A Little Help From A Friend
Time was that when someone offered to help me lift my kayak onto the Blazer I would tell them thanks, but I can handle it. I felt I needed to be able to do that by myself in order to maintain my independence, especially since I often paddle alone. That was then.

Now, I am only to happy to have someone help me make the lift. Oh, I can do it just find; and sliding the boat off the car onto my shoulder still goes well. I guess it's now more about minimizing the stress on achy joints in order to maximize the length of my paddling life.
Having help available, especially for the heavy lifting, is one of the benefits of paddling with a partner or a group. So, from now on, I'll go with the song lyric, "...I get little help from my friends."

Paddle safe...

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Waiting for the Mailman
My Secret Decoder Ring

Okay. I think I've done everything right. I saved up some coins, tore off the tops of a lot of cereal boxes. put it all in an envelope, sent it all off and am sitting here waiting for the mailman to bring my new secret decoder ring. Kind of. If you are over say 40, you remember doing this...I hope.

Well I actually did save up my coins, but there were no box tops involved. I did, however, have to fill in some paper work and give up my secret decoder credit card number (that brings it into present times...but I digress). And, in fact, I am waiting for the postman, UPS guy, Fed Ex or a call from Madison to tell me that my stuff is here. In this case, however, I am waiting for a paddle and...yes...a new boat.

Which boat? You'll see when the postman guy gets here. After all, no one likes waiting alone.

Paddle safe...

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Meet The Paddler
It was good to see Rick on the water this past Sunday. He is relatively new to paddling, and chose to go outside (the breakwater) into 1-2 foot chops. More over, they were on the beam, something that a new paddler might find a bit scary.

I've actually known Rick for years. He is a gerontologist and was, for some time, my mother in law's doctor. He and his wife are avid bicyclists and usually do a long pedal on Sundays. They are both people you would enjoy being with as they are upbeat and friendly.

Rick and I paddled the second half back together, and I asked him if he had been comfortable on the outside. He said he had, but relaxed and let the boat do its thing. Perfect. As soon as the water warms a tad, he's going to learn to roll; and, I suspect, he will do so quickly.

Paddle safe...

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

It's Looking Good
The future of any organization, sport or otherwise, depends on an active pipeline. New folks entering the arena and, just as important, present players stepping up to help keep things moving. With this in mind, I was happy to see a vigorous IDW class on Lake Michigan this past Sunday. It brought back memories of my IDW and ICE on these very waters.
It was also the first time my friend and mentor, JB, acted as an instructor-instructor with oak leaf clusters. Everyone on the scene was growing in knowledge and skills, and that should bode well for seeing more safe paddlers on the water.

Paddle safe...

Monday, June 01, 2009

Here Come's The Judge

There's the old story about a Chicago judge who after hearing the district attorney's argument says, "You're right." The defense attorney immediately objects and states his argument on behalf of his accused client. The judge responds with, "You're right, too." At that point, a reporter says to the judge, "You have just told two people with exactly opposite arguments that they are both right, and that is not possible." The judge simply answers, "You're right, too."

Stay with me. I have had more than one posting on paddle length and the arguments for short v. long paddles. I indicated that I have ordered a 230 low angle paddle to use in place of my 220 low angle paddle (same blade). Well...I was at a local shop the other day because I had a gift certificate and, to get right to it, I walked out with a 210 high angle blade (Tybee). The surface area of the blade is on the small size and lessens the shoulder loading of paddling high angle. Sometimes it feels great, other times not so much. Only time will tell as I spend time with each.

In the mean time, I want you to know that, no matter which side of the argument you come down on, you're right, too.

Paddle safe...