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. . . WELCOME PHOTOGRAPHERS, PADDLERS AND DREAMERS If there be magic on the planet, the magic is in the water (ANON)

Updated: 2018-03-06T01:15:34.816-06:00




Devaluation of the IPPON

What has happened to the Warrior?

   When I began studying Judo back around 1958 there was a different attitude (and scoring system) which seems to now only persist in Japan. Back then one could only score a half point (Wizari) or a full point (IPPON) in a Judo match. An Ippon would instantly win the match (as would two Wizaris). Throw an opponent to his or her back with force and control and you were awarded an Ippon...and instantly won the match. As the sport spread across the world and tournaments saw more and more players, modern folk (read: Western) got restless with the scoring system.  Many matches were ending in a draw in which case both players were eliminated (often some of the best in the division).
   Along came the new system that awarded 1/4 and even 1/8 points. So, if a player made a sloppy technique and received a fraction of a fraction of a point, that person could prevail and win the match by going defensive and simply fending off the opponent. Talk about boring matches.
   Still, in Japan the spirit of the game remained unchanged and the cry of the warrior was to GO FOR THE IPPON!
   This resulted in a double edged sword. Say someone got a fraction of a fraction of a point. By going for the Ippon and risking all they created a scenario in which the opponent might counter and get a slightly bigger fraction of a point and, thus, grab victory from the jaws of defeat. Still, in major world-title matches, Japanese Judokas have risked their leads and gone for the IPPON. Sometimes, the spirit worked in another way.
   In a now famous world title match the Japanese player tore a shoulder muscle and  suffered great pain. He almost dropped out but decided to continue. Now, one might think he would try all sorts of little things to get one of those minuscule fractions of a point for the win. Instead, he went full out and relentlessly attacked his opponent with major techniques. With seconds left he made a stunning throw and the referee yelled, "Ippon." He had won the match and a world title. But that is not the end of the story about this man.
   In a subsequent major title match he led by one of those "weeny" points and needed to only run out the clock with defensive maneuvers to take the title. But that was not the spirit of the warrior, that was not what the Ninja had handed down. This man, with victory virtually assured, went for the IPPON and, in doing so, was countered and thrown. He had lost the match and the title. As he stepped off the mat he was seen to be smiling. Yes, he had lost; but he had maintained his honor and dignity. He had embodied the spirit of the warrior. He had, above all, gone for the IPPON.
Paddle  safe...

Get assessed


Kayakers: want to be a star?

 Most of you paddlers know that there is a BCU (British Canoe Union) and an ACA (American Canoe Association) each of which certifies instructors at various levels (1-5). Most of you also seem to know that the BCU offers classes and assessments to award(non instructor) paddlers a star value that indicates their level of proficiency as a paddler. So, when someone says "I am a 3-star paddler," you know that the BCU system has validated their competency at the criteria for that level.

What fewer of you seem to realize is that a parallel system exists within the ACA paradigm. That is, an ACA certified instructor can evaluate a paddler and award them a skills assessment award at some level up to and including the instructors level of certification. For example, one could go on the ACA site, download the skills required of (for example) a level 2 paddler. When ready, an instructor with a level 2 (or higher) certification can put you through the paces and, if you pass, award you a level 2 assessment award. It does require that you are or become a member of the ACA.

It would be nice (I believe) if more paddlers had a realistic assessment of their skills. If they fall short in any area, the testing instructor notes that and the paddler knows where to emphasize their practice. 

Go ahead and check out the ACA site and the requirements for skill assessments and see where you think you are on the skill ladder. Then, find a qualified instructor and test out. Best of worlds and you end up with bragging rights. Worst case scenario and you know exactly what you need to work on. 

Paddle safe...

Blessed is he...


Most Blessed Man Ever?

I suspect you know a guy (or two) like this. A guy who seems blessed in every aspect of his life. The guy I have in mind was blessed with wonderful parents who brought him up from humble beginnings and modeled for him the values of integrity and charity. He wasn't wealthy but was able to create his own fun and adventures.

He lived in a time and place where public school education was excellent; and he was stimulated to go on to college. There, he was blessed with excellent instructors and, when he went to graduate school, wonderful mentors. During all these years he was blessed with wonderful friends who became life-long friends on whom he could depend on in times of trouble. Oh, he had enough trouble, just like the rest of us, but each event taught him a lesson and left him stronger. 

There is not enough space to enumerate his interests and the blessing they brought to him. They showered him with incredible experiences and put him in contact with new friends who stimulated him to higher achievements. 

He enjoyed a long and rewarding career doing worthwhile work of which he was proud. 

After educating himself (and surviving the military), he was blessed when he was fixed up with a blind date who was to become (as he called her) his first wife. They are still married almost 40 years later. You can probably guessed that he was further blessed with wonderful children and incredible grandchildren. 

With all of this he built what I would call an ideal and blessed life. He is content with what he has and thankful for everything and everyone in his world. 

No one could ask for more in this life. I certainly can't. It is enough that I am blessed to be that man.

Paddle safe...

An Act of Bliss


How I Almost Touched The Sacred

   I have always felt a unique connection with animals and, until recently, had always had them in my life. Cats, dogs, hamsters and even pigeons have shared space with me  throughout the years. That is, until now. You see, since Ansel, our German Shepard mix died some years back, there has been a black void in my world. Our life style no longer made it practical to have another dog and my wife, sad to say, is highly allergic to cats. So, I went without and lived with the emptiness......until a few days ago.
   I don't know why, but I had never had among my animal family a guinea pig. So, it was a pleasant event when I went down to Illinois to spend some time with two of my grand kids who happen to have a pet guinea pig named Katie. Mostly white with some brown markings and piercing black eyes, Katie seemed immediately comfortable on my chest and lap. I don't know if was the texture of my fleece jacket or if she just sensed that I was a safe and kindred soul. At first she sniffed a bit and, when she settled down, I began to stroke her rich fur coat. Down her back and around the base of her ears, over and over I moved my hand as I slowly began to sink into a calm revelry.
   I have read how stroking a pet has health benefits and I have seen how visiting animals can  produce a magical joy in nursing home residents. Most of all, I remembered how I used to lay on the floor next to Ansel while stroking his fur, looked into his eyes and talked to him about my life. He would look back into my eyes and just listen, like any good therapist. The deep calm that I had experienced then began to revisit me as I sat in silence and stroked Katie. Then, something happened that I did not know was possible. Katie began to purr. 
   I didn't know until I read about it later that guinea pigs often purr when content. Moreover, she began to chirp. Over and over, a sound reportedly made when guinea pigs are in an altered state. It was magical. I stroked, she chirped and purred while I sunk deeper and deeper into a meditative state that did not seem of this world.
   Nothing could have possible been more blissful. At the time I was prepared to spend eternity there stroking Katie while going into a deep trance. So we sat for a while and, as the sun outside the window worked itself to where it was to announce the end of the day, Katie peed all over my shirt.

Paddle safe...

I am On My Last Leg


On My Last Leg

And Now To Take Care Of It

   My life (and, I believe, yours) is full of life-changing events that contribute to the rich texture of our existence. Such an event happened to me , somewhat late in life, when a fragment of a lumbar disc broke off, cut a nerve and left my left leg weakened. Suddenly I was unable to continue many of my passions including running (I had a 3:30 marathon in my fifties), sail boating (a beautiful 42' cutter) and Judo (I was a black belt and actively competing and teaching). A period of sadness and self pity followed as I sought out an activity to replace what I had lost.
   Somehow, I ended up at Rutabaga Paddle Shop in Madison and took a 6-hour intro to sea kayaking class from a man I have come to know as my mentor, my friend, and JB. It was instant love. My background of decades sailing on Lake Michigan, Judo and SCUBA all came together. I found it easy to learn what was to become my new passion (which, when I became a certified instructor, married well with my other passion: teaching).
   Jump ahead a bunch of years to last month. I am on Lake Michigan in one of my kayaks when I develop a pain in my right upper thigh. Driving home, the pain was even there when I moved my foot from the accelerator to the brake. In spite of my medical background and having taught college level anatomy, I was uncertain about what had happened. There had been no sudden injury. After poking myself, resting and trying to paddle again (on 3 occasions), I finally sought out the help of a profession for which I have great respect: Physical Therapy.
   It took Sarah 4 minutes to diagnose psoas tendinitis (Psoas: Latin: sore as....never mind). She gave me PT, showed me stretches I had never seen and told me to stay away from my kayaks. I was concerned. Hey, teaching session was only weeks away, and I wanted to be there. I did go on line to partsforthebody/youwish.heavanehlpme but to no avail. Apparently they were no longer making parts for a model as old as me. Bummer. So I followed Sarah's orders, did my exercises and reported back for my next appointment.
   Good news. Sarah saw great improvement and gave the clearance for a gentle test paddle. Hurrah! I put my Cetus MV out on the lawn, sat in it and gently edged the boat. I rotated. I pressed on the pegs. No pain. Within the hour I was in the boat and on the lake...and it was heaven. I did a gentle 40 minute paddle, called it a day and counted my blessings.
   I do not believe in stretching cold muscles. That's why I warm up with a slow paddle and then stretch in the boat (something that I realize beginners cannot do). I cannot, however, conceive of a way to stretch my sore-ass muscle while aboard and have taken to doing so daily at home. 
   Hey. My time on the water is precious and depends on my last good leg. So, I plan to take care of it.
Paddle safe



...And On The 7th Day...

(part II)

I lifted the lid slowly and, as the light hit the golden lacquer on the tubes, I imagined how an absent husband must feel when about to explain his absence. I lifted the flugel horn from the case and was delighted to find the valves unfrozen. I attached the mouth piece and let the horn have its revenge on me.

The chops weren't there. Like an athlete who hasn't trained in a long time, the muscles we horn players call our chops were not ready to take the field. A whiny, thin tone, lacking in overtones, dribbled out when I blew in. The range I was able to navigate was narrow and my fingers seemed to say, "Really, Dick? After all this time?"

I lasted only several minutes before my lips tingled and I had to put the horn back to bed. 

Jump ahead several days....


I had stuck with it and had finally built up the nerve to take out my true ax: the trumpet my parents had purchased for me about 60 years ago and which had survived 3 refinishes, a few dent repairs and travels with me to SE Asia. The horn I had used when I sat in with some of Jackie Gleason's musicians and other groups. Memories started to flood back into mind. By now the chops were amazingly agile. Muscle memory  and brain-muscle connections so often used in the past proved to be hard wired.  

My range increased as I worked through my collection of first smaller and then larger mouth pieces. Soon, I was using my Bach mouthpiece with the deep bowl that gives those rich overtones. Soon, my fingers did their job without thought. I had, as we say in kayaking, gone from conscious stumbling, to conscious capabilities that level of unconscious capability that allows one's thoughts to magically come out of an instrument as jazz.

The sound filled the house as I thought the thoughts that came out as scat out on the water. Now, as in the days of old, they emerged as sounds racing through unnamed chord changes. Thoughts became sound and, before very long, I was actually hearing the sidemen running along beside me in a satisfying catharsis of jazz. And I remembered. I remembered how some of us once had decided what the bible should have read. For we, the lovers of jazz, knew that...
(will be continued if I can find somewhere to jam or sit in).

Paddle safe...




(part one)

Thinking of it now, it had begun a few days ago when Jeff and I were heading in after riding waves along the wall and negotiating the slop in the outer harbor. He commented that I must have been enjoying the paddling as I had a huge smile on my face. It was news to me. 

In fact, for the proceeding several moments I hadn't even been in my kayak; at least not mentally. I had been in a revelry where I had been experiencing a jam session. I was on trumpet and could actually hear the throbbing of the upright bass (not electric, please) and the driving sound of the drummer. It's always been that way with me. I begin processing a tune in my head and before I know it I am taking rides and hearing the side men as if it were all actually happening. In fact, paddlers have told me that I am constantly singing scat while paddling, although I am generally not aware of my actions. So, on Wednesday evening, while at my men's group, I decided to talk about all this during my work round.

I apparently did more than talk as I described the above. Suddenly, I realized that these men (who knew me as well as any in the world) were looking at me as if a stranger had joined the discussion. "What?" I asked. As it turned out, they had no idea of my attachment and love of music happened again...I had apparently been scatting and making the sounds of the entire rhythm section as I "spoke" about it. It soon became apparent to them that I not only missed my music (read: Jazz) but loved it deeply. It was time (it somehow got determined) that I revisit that part of my life. So, I took a stretch. I promised (myself) that I would work with one of my instruments at least five out of seven days each be continued

Paddle safe...



Doug Winter

Still missed by friends

It seems as if it were just yesterday when we messed around in boats.

Doug (far left) was our friend, a kayaker, a fine teacher of children and...above all...a fine decent guy. 
After all this time he is carried in our hearts. His name is spoken often in our circles. 

Paddle safe...

And so it goes


And so it goes...

As usually happens in this latitude, the summer has gone by swiftly and the Big Lake (Michigan) is starting to cool down from the night temperatures. I am back to lecturing at the university (UWM) and find myself reflecting on the past 4-5 months.

I paddled a good deal and found someone (Jeff) who is both a colleague (ER Doc) and someone with a schedule that allows him to paddle during the weekdays.

I had a tough experience with some of my training goals and am still resolving medical issues around all that.

The two symposiums (DKSKS & GLSKS) were wonderful experiences. Teaching continues to be my passion and got to do that on my own and with Sherri and Danny and other wonderful instructors from whom I have carefully stolen some excellent teaching techniques.

I am presently searching for something long and lighter to replace my Cetus MV as I most often paddle alone and have a short carry to the launch site. To fund this I would need to sell one of my Greenland boats (I have a SOF and one I built from a Mark Rodger's kit). I will hold on to my old Romany for teaching a lot of short paddles.
I need to hook up with some local traditional paddlers as I do not like to be on the water alone in boats that cannot be wet exited or in which it is difficult to do so. The weather (and water temps) is ideal for the Tulik.

I am grateful for the blessings that have allowed me to be active at my age and to do so with so many wonderful folks.

Paddle safe...

Sunny Side Up


I Don't Give Medical Advise (anymore)

While in practice I tried to keep up with new discoveries in nutrition and diet and learned long ago that low vitamin D levels (common in northern latitudes) were associated with depression and may be part of the cause of SADs (seasonal affective disorder...treated with bright lights). I did blood levels on several patients who complained of depression and found low Vitamin D levels in their blood. On therapy their levels rose and so did their moods.

Now, a new study indicates that upping levels of Vitamin D helps treat (remove brain plaques) in Alzheimer's Disease. Perhaps that 5,000 units a day (which raised my levels to normal) is why my brain is so excellent at my age [(my wife (and others) would disagree].

Perhaps, too, it is the sun exposure and production of the vitamin that makes paddlers so happy. (BTW: Vit. D is fat soluble and requires some fat in the tummy to be absorbed well).

But you didn't hear it from me.

Paddle safe...



The Healing Has Begun

After the experiences of the past few months I came up to the Door County Sea Kayak 
Symposium with my main man, JB. There I met up with Sherri, Jeff, Robin, Kelly and a whole bunch of kayaking colleagues from around the Midwest. My schedule turned out to be ideal. Nancy, (Da Boss) was kind to me.

Friday morning I taught a forward stroke class with master Danny Mongo...from Werner Paddles...and we danced...and the students improved before my eyes.

Friday after noon and Saturday am I taught a progressive boat control course and, again, I saw remarkable progress among the students.  Saturday afternoon I taught rolling. 2 of the 3 hit rolls in the first half hour.

Sunday morning was for surf which didn't occur, but Danny, Sherri and I put together a land and on water presentation with great results. In the afternoon I did a one on one rescue lesson that went well.

Being back in the game and among wonderful people (and no caffeine) has had a huge effect on my health, both physical and mental. I am grateful for that and for the kind support of those in my life. I am blessed.

Now, onto Great Lakes Sea Kayak Symposium and cold water.

Paddle safe...

I recently thought the end was in sight...


I was experiencing mental illness....A little while ago I had the opportunity to do some teaching at a kayak get together.Those of you who know me and my passion for teaching will understand how painful an experience it was when I tell you that I screwed up some of my stuff. It was worse than that. I screwed up things I knew how to teach and had taught (well) before. Even worse, I knew it was going badly and (worst of all) I had no idea what was wrong.My fellow instructors were also aware of my plight and equally confused about my sloppy work. I, too, was confused, disappointed and (I must say it) a little ashamed. I could see the disappointment in the eyes of my colleagues, especially one who asked, "Where did that come from?" He appeared sad for me, and I could not answer. Mentally, I was out to sea.As if that were not enough, while rehashing and agonizing over the event I began to develop other problems. I started to fall asleep every time I sat down to watch TV, even if it was the morning news. Then, I would wake several times during the night, finally be sound asleep at 1 or 2 am and then want to sleep in each morning. My thinking was slow and I felt a tad confused and depressed. What the hell, I wondered, was going on, In spite of doctoring myself and having a fool for a patient, I repeatedly reviewed the events of my teaching and the present symptoms but could not tie them together. I felt like hell, did not know why I had screwed up so badly and was concerned about my mental state. Then I asked myself a question I would have asked my patients in a similar situation, "So what changed before you went to teach?" I had not started any meds, inhaled gasses or done anything else except....whoa, wait a minute. The week prior to all of this I had seen a doctor who (for reasons not to be discussed here) recommended I cut out coffee or go to decaf. Well, I went cold turkey a day or two before the kayak gathering....and....I suddenly wondered if that might have anything to do with what was going on. So I Goggled " Caffeine Withdrawal Symptoms". ...And a whole load of references came up including....Results of the Johns Hopkins study should result in caffeine withdrawal being included in the next edition of the DSM or the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, considered the bible of mental disorders,I could not my eyes as I read about the symptoms which included: problems sleeping, sleeping during the day, loss of mental sharpness, etc.I was amazed, surprised and (for the first time in several weeks) hopeful. No excuses, but I had a plausible reason for what happened, and it something about which I can do something. I am presently working on a plan to reintroduce some caffeine and to gradually back off. I guess I am like Sheldon on the Big Bang Theory. I'm not crazy. Only, in my case, my mother didn't have me tested.I wish to hell I had chosen another time to go off coffee.Paddle safe...DS[...]



I Looked Into The Mirror Today...

I looked into the mirror today and I saw a kind man.
I looked into the mirror today and I saw an honest man with integrity.
I looked into the mirror today and I saw a compassionate man.
I looked into the mirror today and I saw a man with a work ethic.
I looked into the mirror today and I saw a humble man.
I looked into the mirror today and I saw an unpretentious man.
I looked into the mirror today and I saw a man who is always willing to lend a hand.
I looked into the mirror today and I saw a man who cared about and for animals.
I looked into the mirror today and I saw a man who put little value on appearance and wealth.
I looked into the mirror today and I saw a man who knew his limitations.
I looked into the mirror today and I saw a man who has fathered as best he could.
I looked into the mirror today and I saw the man I have always aspired to become.
I looked into the mirror to day and I saw a man with eyes getting misty because...
I looked into the mirror today and I saw my Father.

Paddle safe...



Looking v. Seeing

Tuning Your Radio

When teaching young doctors to hear the very low-pitched S3 sound a failing heart makes I have to tell them to "tune" their ears the way they would a radio. The sound they want is like 620 AM (WTMJ in Milwaukee) and will be missed if their ears are "tuned to 1120 (WISN in Milwaukee). Something akin to this seems to happen with eye balls, the brain, looking and seeing. 

People will walk about a wooded area and look at something like this:
But if they "tune" their eyes , they will eventually "see" this:
One of the best ways to get someone to see this way is to hand them a camera. Suddenly, they slow down and look carefully at what is around them. Slowly and with practice new possibilities arise. Soon, a scene such as this
which, at first, appears chaotic and of no special interest...after closer examination becomes...
Folks often look at my 11 x 14 black and white fine art prints and ask if that is how a scene really looked. I answer, "No, that is what I saw." So, slow down and turn your looking into seeing. There is a magnificent world out there waiting for your attention. Don't have a camera? Have trouble slowing down? Try a kayak.

Paddle safe...



Meet the Paddler

Jeff Adler

Jeff is a Coastal ACA certified sea kayak instructor living in the Milwaukee area and paddling with the Milwaukee group. Married with two kids, he spends his nights as an Emergency Room Physician at one of our premier hospitals. I last saw him a few hours ago when a group of us went out onto Lake Michigan.He was in his clean, shiny Romany; but he sometimes shows up in a Nordkapp. 

Quiet and soft spoken, Jeff shows excellent judgment and, as one would expect of someone in his line of work, calm in the eye of a storm. He is observant, able to explain things well and constructive in his methods of teaching. I, for one, feel he has my back when we are out together. If you see him, introduce yourself and feel safe going out with him or taking instruction from him.

Paddle safe...



Student centered learning

(Well,, duh)
I found this online (wish I could acknowledge the source): 

These methods include active learning, in which students solve problems, answer questions, formulate questions of their own, discuss, explain, debate, or brainstorm during class

I am thinking that this is what I have thought of as the Socratic method, one that I have always used in the classroom and on the water. For me, it means engaging the student with questions and invitations to ask their own question and add their input. In fact, I usually state near the beginning of classes that "I expect to learn something from you all today". The give and take keeps them and me engaged and on task. 

Teaching someone to teach can be a difficult task.. A (would be) teacher needs to bring a desire, no a passion, to teach and take joy in seeing his/her students succeed. This, in turn, requires us to check our egos at the door as it isn't about us. 

I remind myself of this over and over again as I work to improve my teaching. While doing so, I need to be careful of the yard stick with which I measure success. While I wish to succeed at teaching I only do so when my students succeed.

I once took a writer's course where I learned the old adage, "Writers steal. Good writers steal a lot." So, when co teaching I often choose to be the assistant in order to observe and steal the other instructor's techniques. Heck, that's how I learned do cardiac catheterization. As with my  professional procedures, when teaching on the water I can see parts of what I learned from all my instructors and colleagues. In the end my hope is that those who learn with me benefit from that approach.

Paddle safe...



I've Been Skewed...again!

So, After waiting over a year, I received my new NDK seat and installed it (thanks for the help, Leslie) into the boat. I rolled a bunch of times in the pool, and the "glue" didn't hold. A week ago, in spite of low temperatures, I redid the seat. The garage was cold, and I did not expect it to hold. Today, I had a nice paddle and, sorry to say, it held. Sorry to say because it appears the seat is a bit angled to starboard.


The boat is lighter than my Cetus MV (easier for these old bones for carrying) and quicker on the turns (great for teaching). So, do I wait for it to fall out, break it out and start over or trade it in? Decisions, decisions, decisions.

Paddle safe...

I lost my eye!


I may Have Lost My Eye
No, this isn't one of my April fool's day things.
It was a very long time ago that I fell in love with photography. I loved both the science and the art (explained decades later when I had certain brain evaluations; but I digress). I bought a little camera from a local pharmacy while in grade school and evolved from there.

At my peak I was into 4x5 fine-art B&W work and was studying with the likes of John Sexton (he's the one who prints Ansel Adam's negatives). He took some of us to meet Ansel's widow and see Ansel's darkroom. (But I digress...again). I would lug a 45 lb. pack along with a heavy wooden tripod. I loaded my own sheet film for the view camera. Most times, I never took out the camera; I just looked. It was all about seeing or, as Ansel called it, pre-visualization. I would stop once in a while, set up the tripod and put my chin where the camera would go. That let me see what the camera would see and decide if I had a viable image.

I would move that tripod around endlessly and often end up deciding it wasn't a worthwhile image. Most days, I never clicked the shutter. I never even took out the camera.This was all part of the art or the right-brain process. Finally, and not very often, I would see the image and find the spot for the tripod. Only then would the camera come out and, from then on, it was left-brain science (calculate exposure, zone development times, swing movements on camera, lens length, etc.). But back to the art.

As a photographer I learned to look. More importantly, I learned to see. I saw the world around me as never before. I noticed the epic and I noticed the details and, when everything was just right, I photographed them and then struggled for hours in the darkroom to produce a worthy image. Once in a great while I succeeded, even entered some jury art shows. Then the digital age descended like a cloud over photography.

I got PhotoShop and did some pretty stuff; but it was never the same again. After all, I could click away without wasting film and depend on the "even a blind chicken gets a kernel now and then if it keeps pecking" principal. Everyone was suddenly putting up "pretty" pictures with too much saturation and too much contrast (in my judgment). HD, something that was magical chemistry in the darkroom was being done right in the camera, even when the clicker in charge had no idea what that meant.

Pretty soon I was a megabyte-clicker, the back pack with the view camera began collecting dust and my wife gradually turned my huge darkroom into a storage area. That's when I realized that I had stopped looking at the world with the eye of a photographer. I no longer saw things I used to see, and I realized that I had lost something. I had lost my eye.

Paddle safe...



Time to Leave My Mistress?

I suspect it is all too common a story that always ends with the same painful question: When do you cut her lose? (Warning, this post also contains references to polygamy).

It started in the usual way. I saw her, fell head over heals and instantly knew I had to have her. We started out with all the excitement of any new relationship and gradual grew together becoming as one. We learned one another's habits and limits and found ways to react in a good way thus avoiding (most) uncomfortable situations. When things did go awry, we sought expert advice and learned from the experience. After a while we settled into that comfort of knowing one another and anticipating each other's moves. Things were good/stable for a while.

Then I saw Her and it was love at first sight. don't get me wrong, I still remained committed to my vows but had to have another. I guess, although it was an "unofficial" relationship, I became a polygamist. In any event, that triangular group worked out amazingly well (and still does) as I divided my time between them and treated them both with respect. They, in turn, seemed fine living together, even though our quarters were small and close. Things were again back to baseline guessed it, I saw another HER!!

To make a long story excruciating, I got another her (and another) to join my growing family. I need to mention that the last few were different from the others. They did not speak English and, well, they looked different. So different that even a casual observer would notice. Still, things got back to a new baseline and life went on... until recently.

The "trouble" is with the two newest "mistresses". I am getting on in years and they seem to have stayed young, at least younger than me. They, of course, want to get out more and, when we do, they require more from me. I'm not ready for the rocking chair by any means, but I can't keep up with these younger ones like I used to...even though I still love them dearly. So, I am faced with the inevitable question: "Is it time to let my mistresses go?"

I suspect it is and I feel obligated to know that they will be taken care of when they leave. They have only known my touch and kindness, and I don't want anyone to hurt them. They must, I know, be with someone who understands them and knows how unforgiving they can be when treated unkindly. To be honest, they can be dangerous and, when they are, difficult(if not impossible) to escape. So I have an obligation here to screen and even warn any suitors before severing these relationships. I never expected this moment to really come or realize how hard it would be to part with my Eastern and Western Greenland kayaks, one of which I built myself from a kit.

Paddle safe...



Hi...My name is SilbsMy name is Dick.I am a paddler.Specifically, I am a kayaker.I am writing this because I am addicted to paddling.I hope that this might help someone with a similar problem.It wasn't always like this. Long distance running, sailing a 42 foot cutter and Judo filled my physical needs for over 50 years before a fractured disc cut a nerve and I lost a good deal of the quadricep muscle in my left thigh. I was suddenly robbed of all the activities I so loved (and didn't realize to which I was addicted) and began sitting in a chair. That's when depression started creeping into my head. I turned to every exercise machine I could find until/ One day, I found myself on a rowing machine...indoors. As I tried to get into the zone(I couldn't) I realized that I could be outdoors doing this.How about sculling? There is a club here in Milwaukee and they have a boat house on the river. But that is only part of the year and, well, I don't want to go backwards. To make a long story short, I ended up taking a intro to sea kayaking course (which I now teach) at Rutabaga (that den of evil and tantalizing distractions). They say you can be an alcoholic and not know it until you take that first drink. Turns out, I am genetically a kayakholic (my DNA test show I have 4 of the 5 genes).Within weeks I had bought a boat and went out with my smattering of skills (typical behavior for someone with this disease) and was treated kindly by my Higher Power and paddlers who gradually took mercy on me and became friends. Soon my garage was filling with paddles, kits to build boats, smelly neoprene and other things that began endangering my marriage. Alas, I ignored all the warning signs. I did not seek help. I did not tell anyone that I was hooked. I just paddled and paddled.I was able to conceal my problem until recently when unusually cold weather and lots of ice conspired to keep me off the lake.My name is Silbs and I am a kayaker It has been several weeks since my last paddle. At night, when my wife is asleep, I scan the internet for kayak sites, especially ones with pictures...especially close up pictures. I recently have begun noticing that I like sites with boat kits and pictorial videos. I sit hypnotized as pieces of naked wood take on the sensuous form of a kayak and then...OMG, forgive me...this is the best part...a brush of lacquer is s l o w l y drawn across the deck which responds with a deep luscious tint that causes me to stare with lust. I know I would be better if I could just go out on the lake. I cannot. I cannot make the ice go away...only my Higher Power can do that. So I sit at my computer, look at pictures, imagine owning all those slender sea-going vessels and write drivel like this. Please don't hate me.Paddle safe...DS[...]



Old v. Elderly
There are too many cliches regarding getting old ("don't complain, it is not a privilege everyone gets..."). It happens to us all every second and we have clocks and calendars to keep track of the unrecoverable moments of our lives as they slip by. Okay, no complaints there. After all, there is nothing to do about it. We all get older and eventually meet some vague criteria that says we are old. Some folks are old at 85 and others at 50, all depending on how they live and how their health holds up.

Recently, I injured a tendon in my left leg and have had a limp and pain ever since (yes, I have seen a real doctor and am going back in a few days for follow up). This malady has kept me in pain and, worst of all, sitting long after day. It even makes sleep difficult as there does not seem to be a position in which the pain does not occur. So what?

Well, to some I have been old for a long time; but not to me. I am out there kicking butt, showing up and being marked present. Now, however, sidelined by this injury, I feel old; and I sure as hell do not like it. I know, I am feeling sorry for myself, sitting around, looking out the window at dreary days and medicating with sugary foods. Terrific.

What to do? Well, firstly, I am doing as the doctor orders, hoping for relief soon and continuing to plan future activities...including kayaking and teaching kayaking. Matter a fact, I will begin teaching 2 lectures at UWM next week, even if I have to be carried into class. Finally, I am writing this piece to hold myself accountable to doing everything to stay in the game so I can help those young and old folks learn. After all, teaching is my passion and pain in 1 of 4 extremities is not an excuse to not show up.

Paddle safe...



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...



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...



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...



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...