Wednesday, December 11, 2013

How We Russians Deal With Winter

   I have been recovering from the flu and sleeping a lot. Today I decided to go to the gym and do a light work out. It felt good and afterwards I went into the steam room which was, at first, a frustrating experience as the room wouldn't get very hot. An employee happened to be in there and, when I pointed this out to him, he said it was fine and blah, blah blah. He talked a lot and, much to the delight of those in there, finally left.
   It was then when a short, stocky fellow about my age and who had been sitting quietly near me said (with an accent) that I was right and that we could make it hotter. He had a wet wad of paper towels which he told me could be put over the sensor so the steam did not shut off so quickly. His problem was that he was too short to reach the sensor. So, I put the paper over the damn thing...and then things really heated up in there. Sitting in a fog of steam almost too thick to see one another, we both expressed our satisfaction with the high temperature each commenting on how that is how it is supposed to be. We sat quietly for a while, each with his own thoughts, and enjoyed the intense moist heat. 
   Now that we were practically friends, I finally asked him what his accent was. "Russian," came the reply out of the fog. He had come to Milwaukee in the 1900's. "I should have known," I told him. "I am half Russian. My mother came over as child."
   Finally, the temperature in there reached that of a smelting oven and I had to remove the paper toweling. As it gradually "cooled", we both sighed with pleasure, just two Russians who knew how to enjoy a good shvitz. When it became obvious that it was time to leave, he looked at me and said, "That was good," and offered a meaty hand. The hand shake was solid and strong. We had done what needed to be done and felt good about it. I had had a good shvitz and had met a new comrade. Not a bad day at the gym, but then we Russians know how to handle winter.

Paddle safe...

Saturday, November 30, 2013

This Train Must Always Leave the Station!

"Arriving on track number...," we've all heard that over the speaker at some train station at one time or another. It's here. The train is here with, presumably, one or more people who we've come to meet. These are great moments resulting in that expression beeing bent and extended to "having arrived."

To have arrived infers success. The struggling actress finally gets a lead roll and the press announces that she "has arrived." Touchdown. Score. Goal achieved. That's great, but the more important question, at least for me, is what next? So, one has arrived, scored, gained success and achieved a goal. Time to feel good, celebrate a bit, maybe even brag. They've earned it. But the time comes when it is time to move on. Every train, no matter how important its occupants and its arrival, eventually must leave the station. It must move on. It must leave that place of joy and celebration and do what is next...what ever it is that needs to be done. Otherwise, it ceases to have value as a train.

So, when people ask me why I continue to train in the ACA school of kayak instruction, I am a bit perplexed by the question. Apparently having become a level 3 and then level 4 coastal open water certified instructor indicates to some that I had arrived. Well, yes, I did. And I took great joy in it (and still do. After all, teaching is my passion). Once that glow had peaked, however, I started working on being a better paddler and a better instructor, even if there were no more stripes to add to my sleeve (heck, pfd's don't even have sleeves). I continued to practice strokes and to paddle with my mentors and to ask questions and to watch other instructors and to steal other good teaching ideas.  I loved it and it, in turn, fed me.

There came a time, however, when I got that nagging-restless feeling; and I was time for this train to leave the station. Stagnation was not a viable choice. Improve, move on or rust in the station. I became an Instructor Trainer student. I have been doing that for two years and cannot tell you how much my mentor (Sam Crowley) has taught me. I am not just working on kayaking or even teaching kayaking. I am working on learning theory, teaching to teach and (heaven knows I hate it) organizing things in advance. Some of the latter is tough for a mind like mine. Organizing two things is harder for me than any course in medical school. But I am working at it. It is a challenge and it is clear that I have left the station I was in a short time ago.

So, someone asks, when will I arrive at the next station. The answer is simple: Don't know, doesn't matter. I am on the journey, and as long as I am moving forward and growing, I am content. I am too busy to worry about arrival times. I am driving my own train and it is enough that I am staying on the tracks and making good time. Welcome aboard.

Paddle safe...

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Silbs Survives Singultus

It began on a Friday, a usually benign and self limited condition; and I thought little of it. That is, until it persisted, on and off, through Saturday, Sunday and all day Monday. I started to worry about then. Home remedies had failed to control the disease, so I started reading up on the literature and the differential diagnoses. What I learned was not reassuring.

Brain tumors, acid reflux, cancers irritating the abdomen and many others. It was time, I told my wife (at 10 pm) to go to the emergency room. Off we went where I registered, got on the infamous gown, was hooked up to various wires and seen by a nurse and then a physician's assistant. The PA told me it would be a while until the doctor saw me as he was looking up the literature on my problem. I told her that I had already did that and that he (the doc) was likely to be depressed (as was I) by the possibilities.

As we waited, I gently warned my wife not to worry if they had to sedate me, paralyze me and intubate me as I was beginning to have short spells of breath control. In came the ER doc. A nice guy with a good and practical manner and approach. I had already had (and read on my own) a normal chest X-ray and EKG and we agreed on several blood tests including a serum calcium level (I had recently had parathyroid surgery). They all came back within normal limits. 

We started a protocol which essentially is trying a little of this drug and then another and then another until the patient is cured or....well, hopefully a cured. Somewhere around 2:30 am I feel asleep from exhaustion and, when I woke...I WAS CURED!

They watched me for a while to be sure, then sent me home. During that reprieve I started to relax as I had expected the worst (remember, I am a doc myself) and had accepted the fact that I likely had a fatal condition. Interestingly, the thought made me sad (that I would not see more of my children's and grand children's lives) but not fearful. Life had been good to me. I had no complaints and no regrets. It would, I thought, be nice to get in one more paddle.

Well, I got that paddle (and, hopefully many more to come) yesterday. To date, the symptoms have not recurred, and I have the joy one only know after surviving singultus.

Paddle safe...

Monday, November 18, 2013

It was the Grand Canyon...and I wept.
I think this comes up for me now because I am the same age as was my Dad when he unexpectedly died from a post op infection. He was a kind and gentle man and a wonderful model of honesty and integrity. I miss him to this day. 

More to the point: Dad did not have a great deal of education. He worked hard and did eventually retire. His travel was extremely limited, but he always alluded to things he would do..."one day". It was like the bucket list folks talk about today. Jump ahead (about 25 years back from today) and we find my wife, two little daughters and myself going to Colorado. We rent a car and make the hot drive upward and stay overnight in a motel. The next day we will see the Grand Canyon.

We drive into the Park's parking lot, and I look around. "There's no canyon around here," I tell my wife. She, the all knowing, just smiles. We go into the little rangers building, look at maps and brochures and then follow a sign with an arrow and the promise, "This way to the canyon." Out the screen door we go. I am disappointed by both the flat view and the crummy pine trees that greet me. Maybe, I suggest, we are on the wrong path. My wife nods for me to go on. I don't realize it but she and the girls are holding back. I walk among the scrawny trees with no idea of what is ahead. Then the trees stop, I see it and my knees buckle. Suddenly, my face is covered in tears.

In front of me is one of the wonders of the world, an awesome sight of depth, color and magnitude. I stand there weeping as the vast expanse of the canyon. I am looking at one of the things my Dad was going to day...and never did. So, I seeing it for him.

I do not know how many more years (or days) I have left. No matter. I just want you to know that you have my permission to remind me of this story should I ever put you off with "one day".

Paddle safe...

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Am I too Old? (he asked)
Recently, after I announced our May, 2014 IDW, I received an e mail from a gentlemen inquiring about the event. He had many excellent questions and, among them he asked if he was too old to take the training (to become an instructor). It turned out that he was 52 years old. I assured him that he was not too old and that I had not yet even been in a kayak when I was his age.

This reminded me of the famous Nuns' study in which a group of cloistered nuns agreed to have their brains autopsied after they died (well, duh). It seems that some of their brains showed advanced degenerative physical changes compatible with significant Alzheimer's Disease even though most of them were vibrant, socially active and mentally sharp at the time of their deaths. What could explain this dichotomy of findings?

It seems that these exceptional women were socially active and mentally occupied right up until their last days. I am guessing that their brains found new pathways and re-wired themselves to meet the demands these women created when they refused to sit and await the end. Instead, they kept diaries, were involved in day to day activities and stayed in conversation with their peers.

When I was in practice I did a lot of cardiac stress tests. In the lab was chart that predicted a patient's maximum heart rate based on age (which gets lower as we get older). I invariably found that patients achieved a maximum heart rate consistent with their apparent age (as predicted by the nurse and myself) rather than their actual chronological age...a finding similar to the Nuns' study.

So, if you are 52, or even 62 or more, and you want to be a sea kayak instructor; come to our IDW. Even if you are a nun.

Paddle safe...

Monday, October 21, 2013

A PhD in Sea Kayaking

A Ph D in Sea Kayaking?

How smart/good do you aspire to become in kayaking? How do you keep score? Will there be a time when you decide you have "arrived" and know all you care to know and can do all you care to do in that skinny little sea kayak of yours? For some of you the answer will be yes or "I am already there." That is, you are content with your skills and (hopefully) paddle within the conditions that are safe for you.

For others (this is me raising my hand) it is not such a simple question. For many who are bright, curious, over achievers, have ADD, are obsessive-compulsion, etc. or a combination of them all there is no end in sight. We press on looking for new challenges (not necessarily dangerous ones) and new goals to keep ourselves interested and challenges. We take a certain satisfaction from knowing that we are growing in the sport. We have a need for more. More skill and, for me, more knowledge.
And, we each go about our quest differently.

For some it is a matter of paddling more often and in more challenging conditions (with competent partners). For some it is attending symposiums and taking what I call the detail classes such as working on the forward stroke, doing rescue scenarios and the like. For some others it is taking a deep breath, deciding that they have the basics needed and signing up for an IDW with an eye toward qualifying via an ICE and becoming a certified instructor. An amazing number of us have been there.

Does there, I wonder, come that time when enough is enough? If so, what determines that time? Is it physical limitations? Boredom? Job/family obligations? Age? Whoa, wait. Age? I think not.

Speaking for myself, I have realized the need to progress in this sport that I have come to love and respect and from which I have derived so much pleasure. You also need to know that my passion in life is to teach, so it is no surprise that I worked and practiced and eventually became an L4 certified instructor (some would say certifiable, but I digress). One soon learns, however, that constantly teaching beginners is an excellent way to become a lesser paddler. I didn't want that to happen and, so, even at my age (I am over 40...ok, 50...ok, older) I have decided to train to be an IT (instructor trainer).

Suddenly a new world has opened to me. Now, in addition to on water skills, I am dealing with classroom teaching, even teaching learning and teaching theory and the like. My mentor, Sam Crowley, is a task master and never sells me short. He insists on it being done right and gives me excellent feedback in the areas in which I need improvement. For my part, I feel like I am still learning and growing, I am involved physically and mentally. I am challenged. I feel youn(er).  I am going for my PhD (to add to my MD).

I invite each of you to see if you have reached your level of potential in kayaking (or anything else in your life) and whether or not it is time to take on a new challenge.

Paddle safe...

Saturday, October 19, 2013

                                I...we... Remember Doug

l to r: Doug, Vicky, Sherri, Me

It has been a while, it doesn't matter how long. It was on another October 19th that we found out we had lost our friend and paddling companion, Doug Winter. He was a school teacher, an able craftsman, a friend and a troubled soul. I do not know if he ever knew how much a part of our Milwaukee paddling community he was and how we loved his company and antics.

Doug is gone and his memory is still with us. I...we...remember...Doug Winter.

Paddle safe...

Friday, September 13, 2013

Calm, calm, calmer...

I am a pretty calm guy, especially under fire. I first realized it back when I competed in Judo and relaxing was an essential part of the game. Then, as a cardiologist, I learned to think and remain calm when all about me was going to hell. Many of my quietest conversations occurred as I conducted code 4 procedures during cases of cardiac arrest.

so, I felt calm today as I launched just downwind of the small craft advisory flag flying at the yacht club. As I entered the outer harbor confused waves, 1-2 feet in height came at me from the north and east. Up ahead, I could see spray and even green water coming in over the outer wall...and I felt even calmer. Approaching the south gap it became obvious that the lake was in high spirits. It begins to shallow up a bit there, so things can really pile up as one makes the turn to the south. The calmness increased, and out the gap I went.

As the 4-6 foot rollers came at my beam, I rose and flowed with the energy of the lake happy to be on the water, elated to be alive. I never braced. I did, occasionally. tap a wave just to say hello and connect to the water, but it wasn't necessary. I tried to surf but things were too close together. The nearly 18-footer just wouldn't stay on them. As I made the crossing to another opening in the breakwater, the calmness peaked as I drank in the sun glinting on the sea, the rise and fall of the water and the game of peak a boo I was playing with everything on shore. What could have been better?

And to think some folks find this scary.

Paddle safe...

Monday, September 09, 2013

Yes, but is it exercise?

I have had a long interest in exercise and its effect on health. I grew up in the school of aerobics where long, slow distance (LSD) was the way to go (I even had a sub 2.5 hour marathon in my 50's). We knew that this improved maximum oxygen consumption (MaxVo2), usually resulted in a leaner person and (maybe most importantly) reduced belly fat.

Our nation is now plagued with an epidemic of diabetes and young folks with the metabolic syndrome (fat, borderline fat levels and blood pressure and most of all....INSULIN RESISTANCE). This insulin resistance is what causes type II diabetes. Folks with this (often older and over weight) actually have high levels of insulin...but they are resistant to it. This, in turn, leads to atherosclerosis and heart attacks. So, we ask, how do we cure this? Run marathons? Paddle?

New research now shows that doing intense (really intense...maximum all out) exercise for 3 30 second repetitions 3 times a week will improve your insulin resistance in a matter of weeks. Amazing. What about your aerobic capacity?

It turns out that that is entirely determined by Mom and Dad; i.e., its genetics and you can get a test to see if you will respond greatly or not at all. Sorry, it's the cards you are dealt.

Meanwhile, keep paddling. It pays to be happy. One last thing: the most fatal thing you can do is sit and do nothing. Sitting around correlates with shortened lives along with high blood pressure and more than anything else.

Paddle safe...

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Basics all over again...
So, the rolls have seemed rough and sloppy lately (unless in a Greenland boat). I thought about that and how I used to tell my residents and fellows to always think of the basics. I told them that I more often stopped a medication rather than add another and to think in basic terms (perhaps I digress a bit).

Today, I took the Romany, inserted my closed cell Masik and headed out with a Greenland stick in hand and a euroblade on the foredeck. The rolls were smooth and effortless and, as I analyzed them, I realized it was all about the basics. Since I am more confident of hitting a roll when using the GS I relaxed more and that, in turn, resulted in my head laying way back (I do a very basic sweep roll).

After hitting a few with the stick, I got out my Werner blade and immediately rolled with grace and a relaxed posture. My head stayed back just fine, thank you. I just need to keep all this in mind the next time the roll starts to get bumpy.

Paddle safe...

Friday, August 23, 2013

No Gimmes...
In golf, I guess, if you have a very short putt they just presume you can sink it. You don't even have to put the ball in the hole. Just take the stroke. A give me or I understand it. (But I digress...wait, there is a point to made).

Having rolled my (comparatively large) Cetus MV this past week, I decided to jump into my Romany for some "gimme" rolls (No, the damn seat from Nigel still has not arrived after months of waiting. I used a foam seat and a foam block in, I am digressing).

Out onto Lake Michigan, set up and confidently tip over, and miss the freakin' roll. Is there nothing left to live for? Finally got up right and had a talk with myself. Yes, I explained to my elderly friend, it is a Romany and easy to roll, but there are no gimmes in kayaking. You still have to roll the boat.

I am not dumb, so when someone as smart as myself talks to me, I listen. I paid attention and knocked off a ton of rolls. Turns out the Romany wasn't broken. It is old but apparently still has some rolls left in her old hull.

Paddle safe...

  1. The Time Line...

I was lucky when it came to the timing of my career in cardiology. I began as bypass surgery was being developed and, as a consequence, grew up in an environment of constant challenges and discoveries. I had the first patient in Milwaukee to have an artificial heart as a bridge until (a week later) a proper heart for transplant could be obtained.
As the years unwound, I began doing angioplasty, stenting, pacemakers, heart biopsies and more. It was stimulating and there was always a new fire to fight. Today, in this mornings newspaper, I see where the hospital in which I practiced (and which was a pioneer in all this work) just did its 800th heart transplant. One of the surgeons interviewed indicated how one is expected to survive this type of surgery and how routine it has become.
It was this article that sent me down memory lane and to the appreciation for the story book career I enjoyed. (Never mind that all of these discoveries ignore the fact that they are aimed at putting out fires rather than preventing them). The bigger question that comes up for me is as follows: If we can do all this, why can't I buy (for around $100) an eighteen foot sea kayak that rolls like a SOF, tracks like a train, turns like a bicycle, carries as much as a semi trailer and weighs less than 25 pounds?
Paddle safe...

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Today I was helped by DUBIK Therapy...

With decades of clinical experience, way too much training and having been there before, I had not trouble realizing what was going on. The diagnosis was simple: I was in the dumper, and something needed to be done.

I used my medical knowledge, my martial arts training, some info from aerospace medical school, etc. to analyze the situation. Then, realizing I still have an active Wisconsin Medical License, I wrote myself a prescription: D.U.B.I.K.  Sig use liberally (prn). Yes, I prescribed Dumb Ur Butt Into a Kayak Rx.

But how? I didn't feel like lifting the Cetus (I am still sans Hullavator...more on this will follow) and Nigel still hasn't gotten my new seat to America. Hmmm. Well, I took my 13 year old/looks 70 years old (actually, we're the same age if you count kayak years like dog years) Romany and an old formed foam seat that I had obtained before my memory stopped recording such things and headed to the lake.

As soon as I D'd my B IK I knew something was different. I had never sat so low in that boat. It felt unusually stable. Then I paddled and realized I needed just a tad of a back rest. I pulled onto a beach and put my dry bag (was in rear hatch) behind my back and enjoyed a lovely after noon of braces, turns, draws and sculls. I even gave it a go with the big Ikeolos paddle which felt unusually tame. It did drive me nuts not to roll, but I had promised the surgeon that I wouldn't expose his expert weaving to the e. coli soup in which we paddle. Anyway, the cure worked

Paddle safe...

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Healing and Moving on...

Last Friday I "enjoyed" the other end of the Dr.-Patient relationship. Actually, I slept through it as a parathyroid adenoma and thyroid nodule were removed (on the left). About 24 hours later I was home with orders not to experience "immersion". The surgeon was, at first, willing to let me get back in the boat earlier if I wore the neck gasketed-garment I had described to him. Then I told him about he e. coli count at our beach and I was dry-docked for a week. I see him Thursday and am prepared to negotiate.

Today I tilted my head back with plans of imagining doing a lay-back roll. Instead, I felt the steristrips pulling on my skin and figured it wouldn't be much fun out there just yet. Still, I have memories of my "pre-op" rolling session in my SOF and hitting all my rolls.

Mow, I am content with ingesting large numbers of Tums to replace the calcium leeched from my bones by the high parathyroid hormone levels. My sleep has been horrible as I am not yet exercising. Still, I am grateful and looking forward to staffing (and learning) at the up coming ICE. But how to fill the time between?

Hmmm: My calendar mentions something about a happy hour for the group over at the university where I teach.

Paddle safe...

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Comforts of home.
It came in this little container. JB took out
the parts and began to assemble his new cot. He worked hard and struggled mightily. 
With intention he slowly created his vision, believing in what he was doing would result in something wonderful.
As we watched the miracle of creation, his vision took form before our very eyes.
And Grew!
Until...behold...he had made something that promised great comfort. He hurried to insert it into his humble living quarters.
Then, humbly, he invited us to look into his home to see what he had created with his own hands. And it was indeed lovely.

Paddle safe...

Friday, May 31, 2013

Pain Ain't Weakness Leaving the body!
Face book has had a lot of exercise postings  including one that claims pain is weakness leaving the body. Perhaps it is meant as a spiritual metaphor, but it is lousy physiology. First, one must understand what exercise/training really is: controlled injury.

Take any system (muscular, cardiovascular, pulmonary) and you will find that it has its limitations. The combined limitation of, say, your running muscles determines how fast and/or how long you can run. When you train you slightly exceed that limit (not to the point of pain). That is the first step. The next, and equally important step, is to allow the insult (training) to mend. If you wait long enough and have not overloaded the muscle too much it will heal stronger than before and you will be able to work that muscle harder and/or longer.

If, however, you overload any system too much or (as surprisingly frequently happens) you do not allow a long enough rest interval before exercising again, the system will start to break down. The ultimate in this area is the over training syndrome seen in runners. It can take up to a year off for a healthy young individual to recover if they rest.(I have, sadly, seen this in my cardiology practice in young school athletes pushed by their parents).

Now we have lots of information, formulas and other things to let us know how hard we are stressing our symptoms. Heart rate for one (and our breathing pattern) can tell us when we go from aerobic to anaerobic levels of exercise. Another is pain.

Most stimuli (hot, cold, pressure, etc.) if applied in a high enough amount will be interpreted by our evolved brains as pain. It is not weakness leaving the is your body begging you to stop!

So next time you decide to go for a 10 mile paddle and at 1 mile into it you just don't feel like it, trust your guts and go home. You haven't recovered from your previous training. Going to the gym to "work out the soreness" from yesterday's training? That's like walking on a broken leg until it heals. Doubt me? I'm sure the autopsy will show I am right.

Paddle safe...

Tuesday, May 21, 2013


I am still returning mentally after an intense IDW workshop in Big Bay, MI. It was led by Sam Crowley who was kind enough to allow me on staff as an IT candidate. Jeremy Vore, a talented Level 4 ACA certified instructor was also a huge part of the event.

My first take away was the sense of organization and the thought put into the sequence of topics and events. Sam made me aware (I finally got it) about the difference between the staff presenting (to model teaching, not so much to teach the skill) and the candidates presenting (practicing what staff was modeling). Still with me? Time was precious and Sam showed me ways to keep things moving and getting from A to B with the minimum gnashing of teeth.

I was assigned classroom topics and spent a good deal of time writing lesson plans, gathering info and props and practicing. My chart presentation, intro to the ACA , talks on crossings and rules of the road all could have been better; but I felt that I got to the bones and passed on what the IC's needed. I intend to continue to improve on all of that.

On the water Sam taught me when he didn't know he was teaching me (yeah, I know, he always knows).  All I had to do was watch him model ways to engage a group, keep them moving and to remain STUDENT FOCUSED (heard you, Sam). Every time I gathered a nugget I made every effort to incorporate it into my very next lead role.

The students ranged from their early 20's to a young guy who was in his 50's. By the end of the workshop, as they did team presentations, I saw a bonding of colleagues with common goals supporting one another. As we did a final one on one, I (and I suspect Sam and Jeremy) were impressed by the insights of the IC's feedback. Most of them got it, knew what their future work needed to be and were positive around all we told them. That is a successful workshop (Kudos to Sam).

I cannot end this without a word about Jeremy who, although many years my junior, has much more butt in the boat time than do I. He is an accomplished paddler (was once a BCU Coach) and an effective (if sometimes poly-verbal) instructor. Far more importantly, in my judgment, he is a fine person with a remarkable sense of who he is, insight into what others need and integrity beyond what I see in most people these days. He is the future.

So, now it is time to organize all the notes and thoughts  that returned with me so I don't repeat my old mistakes. Oh yes, I must get to a book store and buy something for Sam. Anyone know of a book titled, "Jokes Guaranteed Not To Make Intelligent People Groan"?

Paddle safe...

Monday, May 13, 2013

My Dirty Little Secret
Basics, Basics, Basics

   So, just as accomplished musicians practice scales each day, skilled athletes practice basics and do so frequently. As I've commented before, I generally paddle alone and use some of that time to practice all the strokes. As a level 4 instructor working on more advanced certifications you might think that I have all the basics pretty much nailed down. Not so fast.
   Since getting my Cetus MV (a regular Cetus before that) I have had trouble with my paddle float self rescue. Now, remember that the boat is Swede form and widest behind the cockpit where, incidentally, is where I get aboard during a paddle float rescue. Well, I started missing more and more attempts until I was failing more than succeeding. Alas, was old aged (I am only 32) catching up with me? What to do?
  Too ashamed to attend a support group, I did what any intelligent 29 year old would do: I went on line. I read articles and watched videos. I listened to how some push the boat under themselves and how some pull themselves onto the back deck. And, after each research session, I went out to try what I had read only to find it didn't work for me. There I was at age 25, all washed up and (literally) adrift.
   Then I thought about how I had taught interns, residents and fellow and how I had always emphasized the basics. And I thought, what is basic to all these methods? Well, they begin by "swimming" to get one's legs to the surface. SWIMMING!
   Boat on car, drive to shores of Lake Michigan, paddle downwind to a cove where I wouldn't hurt myself or anyone else (or be seen if I screwed up again). Got in the water; float on blade (always first); inflate float (only after on blade); into position. Then a little self talk: remember all your judo and what you tell all your students: "If you're working hard at it, you are doing it wrong." I told myself to forget that I am an amazingly muscular 40 year old and that it would be technique (not force) that would get the job done.
   So, I relaxed, kicked and, like a catfish relaxing in the mud, casually swam onto the back deck and hooked a foot on the paddle shaft. Unbelievable. Back into the water, swim, back on the boat...over and over. My 35 year old heart beat with joy. I had not only found my way, I had done it with introspection and the wisdom of a 45 year old wizard. Now, if I could just do a head stand like Freya.

Paddle safe...

Monday, May 06, 2013

Back to Basics

   As I have frequentlly noted, I paddle mostly alone and begin each on water session by practicing my basic strokes. What sometimes gets forgotten are the self rescue techniques. I see others practice them in the pool over winters (as do I); but I rarely see anyone do them in real conditions.
   Add to the mix that I am waiting for NDK to ship me the seat for my Romany. So, I made a temporary (read: sloppy) closed-cell foam affair and took it onto Lake Michigan yesterday. After a little playing in what waves I could find, I went near shore, got out of the boat and practiced paddle float rescues. They went well and it felt good to be in the cold water (in a dry suit) for practice.
   Now, I have to get out with someone else so I can practice in conditions, something I generally don't do aggressively when alone.

Paddle Safe...

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Surgery is always serious:
Seeing a loved one go into surgery is always hard and how one feels at that moment depends a lot on the faith one has in the operating surgeon. So, as I wished my beloved Romany well, I was a bit worried by the organization and level of sterilization of the operating room. Then, I reminded myself that my HMO wanted it done in my garage, a poor second choice.
Dr. Leslie seemed to have the fine surgical instruments needed for such delicate surgery and, when I peeked into the OR, she was using the most delicate of techniques to gently remove one of the Romany's organs...its seat (seatectomy).

All went well and Romany is fine. The seat was sent to the pathologist for diagnosis. We have yet to learn whether we need to try and repair the seat (stem cells anyone?) or get a closed cell foam donor. More to follow.

Paddle safe...

Monday, January 07, 2013

Going into the (kayak) hospital...

I took the old, often patched, Romany to the pool Sunday and was enjoying the easy to roll boat when something wasn't right. I set up to roll and did not feel the paddle was parallel to the hull. Well, it wasn't. The seat had broken from its port anchor under the rim of the cockpit tearing away a thin layer of glass. The seat was turned on its axis.
Then there was the day hatch. It has been cracked for some time and I actually have a new one yet to be installed. The old one was doing fine with a duct tape repair. It seems that the cold garage followed by the warm pool water was enough to end that Rube Goldberg arrangement.

Now, I have something to do if I can find heated space. I have had kind offers and advise regarding repair and am leaning toward replacing the seat with a foam one. I need to really look hard at the repair needed to be sure it is within my skills.

I still prefer the higher speed Cetus MV for group paddles; but, for teaching, you cannot beat the maneuverability of the Romany along with an easier boat to perform a paddle float self rescue. It all balances out.

Paddle safe...