Saturday, June 28, 2008

Mayonnaise and 2 Beers

My Mom forwarded me an email today, a story someone had sent her. I do not know where it originally came from, and you may even have already heard it. Mom said "when I read this, I thought of you --- you do it right". I take it as a great compliment, but must remind her that I learned from her.

When things in your life seem almost too much to handle, when 24 hours in a day are not enough, remember the mayonnaise jar and the 2 beers.

A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him. When the class began, he wordlessly picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls. He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.

The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls. He then asked the students again if the jar was full . They agreed it was.

The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else. He asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded with an unanimous 'yes.'

The professor then produced two Beers from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar effectively filling the empty space between the sand. The students laughed.

"Now", said the professor as the laughter subsided, "I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life. The golf balls are the important things---your family, your children, your health, your friends and your favorite passions---and if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full".

"The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house and your car".

"The sand is everything else---the small stuff".

"If you put the sand into the jar first", he continued, "there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls. The same goes for life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff you will never have room for the things that are important to you".

"Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. Spend time with your children. Spend time with your parents. Visit with grandparents. Take time to get medical checkups. Take your spouse out to dinner. Play another 18. There will always be time to clean the house and fix the disposal. Take care of the golf ball first---the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand."

One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the Beer represented. The professor smiled and said, "I'm glad you asked. The Beer just shows you that no matter how full your life may seem, there's always room for a couple of Beers with a friend".

I love you Mom.

Friday, June 27, 2008

My Sailing Issues

This is the reason it's taking me awhile to get comfortable with sailing.

I'm paddling tomorrow, Paul's racing the sailboat.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Common Adventurer

Lately I’ve been hearing more and more about the ‘Common Adventure Model” being used among kayaking clubs and groups, as they attempt to deal with liability issues. A large flatwater/seakayaking paddling group I’m a member of has recently adopted this concept. It is a controversial concept, much of it related to the fact that it's trips and events appear leaderless.

This is the group’s description on their web page:
“All participants in Kayak Flatwater Meetup trips do so as common adventurers. The group or its individual members may coordinate paddling trips but no one is considered leader of a trip. All participants take the responsibility for making their own decisions including, but not limited to, whether to participate on any particular water body or section, what equipment they use, the routes they may choose to paddle, whether their skill levels and abilities are appropriate for the activity or whether climate and water conditions are appropriate for their participation."
Personally, I'm not a total fan of the concept, but I am trying to learn about it and be more open minded. My first problem is the way the model is described above. I personally prefer the shorter description below, written by the author Ron Watters in his paper “The Common Adventure Model of Outdoor Programming: Philosophical Foundations, Definition and the Effect of Filtering”, which I feel leads to less miss-interpretation and controversy.
“A common adventure trip is two or more individuals working cooperatively for common goals, and sharing expenses, decision making, and responsibilities as equitably as possible”.
As far as liability issues are concerned, in theory one can argue that individuals of a group going on a trip and working toward common goals were in a legal sense a joint enterprise. Members of a joint enterprise are unable to recover damages from one another. I cannot speak to how well it works in practice.

It is worth reading the original article and a follow-up “Revisiting the Common Adventure Concept: An Annotated Review of the Literature, Misconceptions and Contemporary Perspectives”, By Ron Watters to really understand the concepts principals.

The author acknowledges that the model leaves considerable room in its interpretation and application. And he does state that “The idea that common adventure trips are leaderless is a misconception”. Though his definition of leader is different than the traditional trip leaders we are familiar with.

There is quite a bit of history of misinterpretation and misleading designations regarding the concept. It seems to have much of its historical evolution in its use among College Outdoor Programs, and Institutions. This is all related to liability, and the liability issues have continued to shape the concept over the years.

I think it is important to really stress that the concept was originally derived to address liability issues. It is not about how we can each best enjoy adventure in a group setting, which some seem to completely misunderstand.

Most kayak groups interests are about introducing, encouraging, and making available this great sport of paddling, which does have inherent dangers. I feel the there should be an ethical obligation to structure events and trips such that the safety of participants who do not have the experience and judgment (yet) to understand and protect themselves from the potential risk is addressed. You don’t know what you don’t know. Most groups play a role a huge role in educating members about how paddle, and do it both safely and with proper respect for the wilderness. On trips, this is usually a role taken on by a trip leader or guide, teaching skills to those with less experience and managing safety for the group. It is about guiding and/or leading, not about being "the boss" or being one's keeper. That said, I certainly believe all trips, regardless of the model, should incorporate the groups interests and include them as much as possible or as much as they are interested in the pre-planning and decision making.

To me, the common adventurer model appears to work much better when the experience level of all the participants is high. There, everyone has knowledge and practiced experience, and can safely and clearly understand and accept the risks. But this is not my experience of the make-up of club trips.

I also believe that there are some basic skills and equipment that is needed on any trip outdoors, including rescue and rescue equipment (tow belts, rescue stirrups, VHF, cell phone, charts and maps), first aid kits, basic repair kits, etc…. I don’t believe most trip participants have or routinely bring this equipment with them, and likely many don’t know how to use them. Someone has to take responsibility to provide these things, and it’s usually a trip leader.

Another problem I have with the model is that it appears to be very attractive to those members that eschew rules and have problems with leadership, bureaucracy and authority. I believe that an important part of safety management is in defining rules, and having policies and procedures, and guidelines for our trips. Remember a lot of my formal kayak training is in BCU, that should explain it all right there :).

Still liability issues are real and must be considered, and it is a huge problem. I’m just not yet convinced this model really addresses that for our group. Of more interest to a Kayak Club or group might be the article “Outdoor Action Guide to Developing a Safety Management Program for an Outdoor Organization”, by Rick Curtis. This article provide a short outline of the areas that should be evaluated in order to develop a comprehensive Safety Management Program for an organization. Though this is may all apply more directly to a formal club than the looser internet/forum organization of my group.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

BIG Plans

Our son Alan has grown into both an athlete and adventurer, of course he's quite handsome and very intelligent too. Paul and I hit the jackpot when it came to family and our kids Alan and Tana.

Alan finishes college next year, and has some really BIG plans. November 2009, he and 3 friends take off on what many would consider an adventure of a lifetime, a 3-year sailing circumnavigation of the world. But not just a personal adventure, their adventure includes "giving back", an expedition for youth education.

Check out their updated 'EYE of the World' website to learn more about it. The site includes recent news on the boat purchase and refit.

And, if your wishing and dreaming about doing something BIG too, but circumstances don't allow it, maybe you could consider a way of helping out those that can and do.

A very proud Mama.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Balancing the Weekend

Life is about balance. For me, balance on the weekends is in finding time to fit in all the various sports and activities I enjoy, and now that includes sailing with Paul, in the sailboat he and Alan built last winter. I gave up house keeping years ago.

This makes for some busy and active weekends. Saturday morning I met up with friends for a group bike ride (35 miles), than spent the afternoon sailing on the lake in our friend Ken’s Core Sound 17, with Ken and Paul. Sunday morning I managed a solo distance paddle (12 miles), then more sailing with Ken and Paul again, this time in our Core Sound 20. Joining us on the lake was Pat and his daughter Brianna in their home-built lug rigged sail boat.

See slide show of some happy sailors here.

Mid-day Sunday, while waiting for Paul at the end of my paddle, I found friend Camille working on her paddling skills in the shallows waters at the takeout, together we spent an hour or so continuing that work on balancing, high braces and low brace sculling. I even managed some nice balanced braces (without the flotation of a drysuit :)

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Getting Started

The 10th annual Yukon River Quest is scheduled to begin in less then a week. At 460 miles, it is the longest annual canoe and kayak race in the world, and this year has a record 90 boats with about 240 paddlers entered. Some of the competitors will be carrying SPOTs, and as a test for the Yukon 1000 race, these SPOT results will be posted on the new Yukon 1000 race websites results page.

Kristen (KiwiBird) and I will be following this with great interest, as we plan to race in the inaugural Yukon 1000 Canoe and Kayak Race next July 2009. It’s all getting quite exciting, the entry pages for the Yukon1000 should also be up for registration in the next few days.

So it's time to start planning. With a year to go, I need to begin thinking about my training strategy. I know how to train for endurance and distance, having finished 5 WaterTribe Everglades Challenges (300 mi), a WaterTribe Ultimate Challenge (1200 mi), and a Missouri River 340 mi challenge, but this time around, I’ll be training to race, a new and different challenge for me.

For starters, this summer will be all about a healthy and active lifestyle. Including some nutritional changes (yes there is still that awful 20 lbs), becoming more active in my yoga practice, and especially working harder on core and strength training, all the while maintaining a good aerobic base with paddling, swimming, and biking. It’s too early to start any real race specific training, but I intent do work a good bit with my Greenland paddle developing technique for strength and speed, as Kristen and I are planning to race this using Greenland paddles.

One new thing I’ve started is biking to and from work. I found myself a great commuter bike ($200), with rack and fenders, and can vary my route from 5 ½ to 16 miles a day depending on time and which hills I want to tackle. Even Paul is talking about giving it a try.

Summer is here, lets get it started.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Father's Day Sail

Alan came home for Father's Day and we took out the "Dawn Patrol" for a sail. As usual Paul was taking all the photos, this one from the top of the cuddy cabin. Unfortunately no pics of Dad.

We had pretty mild conditions, ranging from 0-5 mph winds, not the best for sailing, still we had great fun, even in very light winds we can get that Core Sound moving. We were one of 4 sailboats out on the lake, the other 2 mono hulls eventually started motoring. When the winds died, we took the opportunity to practice with the sculling oar, and rowing oars to get back to the boat ramp. Paul's prefers to to be a purist, refusing to put a stinky motor on the back of our sailboat.

We'd originally planed to finish the day by flipping the boat and doing some rescue drills, but we'd all had a bit of sun, were tired and hungry, and decided to put it off for for another day.

We'll have lots of other days.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Paddling Friends

Paddling is such an important part of my life, and means so many things to me, including a good bit of my social life outside the family. Last year I was very excited to find a new Internet group of paddlers in my general area. It's an interesting mix of both new and skilled paddlers, from many different walks of life, all sharing an interest and/or passion for paddling. I've made some new and wonderful friends in this group.

Last weeks kayak symposium was absolutely made all the more fun getting to paddle and play with some of these friends, most especially Camille and Craig who I shared a campsite with, and who were in many of my classes.

Here we are cooling off on the sound side of Drum Inlet at the end of the day on the last day of the 6 day symposium.

Thanks guys, we sure had some fun.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Sea Kayak Training Weekend

With my boss out of town for a few days, it turned out to be a great opportunity to take some vacation days. Six great days on the coast in Swansboro at the Southern Outer Banks Sea Kayak Symposium at Barrier Island Kayaks. It's actually my 3rd symposium there over the past 6 years.

We had some pretty hot weather, but with great ocean breezes and perfect water temperatures, it was the best place to be in N.C. There was a nice local contingency of paddlers there, and it's always great fun seeing folks you only get to see and visit with during these events, and there's wonderful opportunities to make some new paddling friends too.

My goal was to work on performance skills. After the last couple of years of endurance and distance work work and predominantly paddling my Kruger Dreamcatcher, I'd worried it might have been at the expense of my seakayaking performance skills.

Didn't really need to worry at all. When it was all over, I had a "new" BCU 3* award to add to my old 4*. I also got to work with Sherri and Turner on front recovery rolls (more work to do), and got in quite a bit of rough water and surf work in moderate conditions.

Now I'm working on selling our old piano so I can buy a new NDK Explorer with the new Kari-Tec skeg/rudder system. This system will be perfect for my Pacific Action Sail.

I also got to talk to Russell Farrow from Sweetwater Kayaks about his upcoming IR Vacation to Hell. I mentioned KiwiBird's and my plans for the Yukon1000 next year. Hmmm, he strongly suggested we look into bringing along a shotgun. There's bears up there.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Aqua - Bike

Yesterday was the Kerr Lake Olympic distance triathlon. Alan and I had registered for it awhile back for training. Neither of us have done much training this past month, Alan's just spent a month sailing, and I'd mostly been pouting over my knees.

I'd planned on just being a no-show. Alan called me Saturday morning to say he was going, and I offered to drive down with him, to cheer him on. I checked the website and found this was one of those triathlons with the new Aqua-Bike division, created to help out athletes with running injuries or who can no longer run. Perfect, I won't be doing the Ironman, but I'm still swimming and biking.

So we both competed, and cheered each other on. And, both of us did better than expected. Results haven't been posted, but it was my fastest bike ride to-date even with the strong headwinds, and the swim just felt great.

Next weekend it's all about kayaking at the Southern Outer Banks Sea Kayaking Symposium down at Barrier Island Kayaks, though I'm still crossing my fingers on this, haven't worked out the days off from work yet.