Wednesday, April 30, 2008

GPS of the future...

So here's my crystal ball gazing for the future. I believe, that in about two years time, we will not recognize GPS' as they are now. Why?

Apple's new 3G iPhone will be introduced this summer, with two 8-gigabyte-memory and 16-gigabyte-memory models. The new iPhone will also have a GPS chip for navigation and "other location-based services."

Now, what does "other location-based services" mean? Perhaps this is a feature that may be in competition with the SPOT satellite messenger? (But perhaps not waterproof;)

I don't know, but I for one will be hoping my already out-of-date and discontinued Garmin GPSMAP 60CS will hang on for another couple of years.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Ghost bike

Nancy Antoine Leidy was struck and killed by a truck on April 23, locally here in North Carolina. She was flung 58 feet, the driver of the truck being a drunk student, around mid-morning.

Naturally this has sparked many a conversation in the biking blogosphere.

If you drive a car, and see a cyclist on the road, please be mindful of us.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Canadian Ckayaker visits

We were very privileged to have Michael Bradley, aka Canadian Ckayaker visiting over the weekend, dragging him from dinner party to dinner party over three nights, a bit of gardening, a pick up of a new gym set for the WeeOne, and a wee bit of babysitting to boot.

Saturday night we had dinner with SandyBottom, Paul and Alan, Michael able to give some handy hints to Dawn on the last finishing touches for her SOF.

Sunday saw us out on the water, introducing Michael to the joys of our local Jordan Lake. Launching from Ebeneezer Point, we enjoyed flat calm, sunny conditions right up to the Haw, where we sat on rocks nibbling on French bread and cheese listening to the babble of the passing river.

About an hour from the put in, the black clouds started rolling on, with the occasional rumble of thunder. Fairly confident they'd pass to the nor-west of us, we paddled on home. About 20 minutes from the put in, it turned very, very dark, and the rain started. A slight breeze picked

up. Within minutes, the rain was a downpour and the wind blowing a good 20knots. Our flat calm lake was now a two to three feet chop. Grateful it was on our aft quarter, we managed a few surfs home, but I found my boat a bit skittish with no extra gear on board. Quite a blast!

I was thankful we weren't on one of big lakes way up north that Gordon Lightfoot sings about - this may have been a different story.

Monday, April 21, 2008

I do...

A big day this afternoon in our wee world. Off to court for me to legally adopt the WeeOne.

Months and months of paper work and waiting and $$$ have slowly passed us by...

We were lucky to have some of our closest friends along to support us, who helped shed a tear or two on the occasion.

I've never been in a court of law to place my left hand on the Bible and raise the right to swear that I'll tell only the truth, but luckily the judge excused me from raising the right, as I had the WeeOne on the left, and the right one holding his small container of Cheerios. She even excused me from leaving a Cherrio on the floor.

After a long series of questions from our attorney, and then a few from the judge, who wanted to know exactly what "extreme sports" entailed, as noted in the elaborate home study report (that's another story!), and whether I had enough life insurance and really intended to take him with me on next year's Y1K, everything was duly signed off...

... and I am officially now the second parent of the WeeOne. Mum. Sigh.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Where did you find that?

One of our favourite sayings we heard from our grandfather, Gramp, was, "Where did you find that? Floating down the river on a log?" (I use it often now with the WeeOne.) And seeing this wonderful sleep concept from Okooko (which means "to cradle in arms" in Maori) just brought this old saying to mind. Heaven knows why...

Okooko is a New Zealand company with a new store just opened in Philly, of all places. "Float," as above, was launched at NZ's Furniture Fashion in May last year, and voted by the public as 'Best piece of bedroom furniture' in the NZ made competition.

Designer David Trubridge has worked from boatbuilding to furniture making, and sailed through the Caribbean and the Pacific with his family in Hornpipe. He sees “Sleep is a voyage through dreams when we wholly give ourselves up in trust, lying curled up in our bed vessel feeling safe and cosy. It can be ten minutes in the office, an hour on the lawn or all night in any place we pull our cradle to.”

Personally, if we could all kayak in something like Float, imagine what a happy world this would be!

Of course, I also love the photo as it's taken from the beach in front of the marina in Tauranga, my home town. That's the famous "Mount" across the harbour - Mount Maunganui - many a time have we sailed out that entrance on a new voyage, or walked up the Mount's summit and marvelled at the view across the Bay of Plenty. Sigh.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Old man and the sea

Happy birthday, Dad!

Cheers to 87 years.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Is it the boat or the paddler...?

You'll all be familiar with the age-old argument related to the speed you can get out of your boat, and whether it's really the boat or the paddler that makes us "winners." (This camp tends to fall on the paddler's side.) But still we'll hang out for that boat that shaves off a few grams or even kilos with the transition from plastic to kevlar, sharper lines and fork out over $450 for a racing carbon fibre wing paddle.

Now it seems the argument's also hitting the competitive world of swimming, where Speedo's come out with the LZR Racer Highneck Bodyskin - for only US$550 (NZ$704). Not just another swim suit (or "togs" as we Kiwis call them), these suits are being blamed for toppling a host of world records in the past eight weeks - 36 as of Sunday - by swimmers wearing the high-tech LZR Racer bodysuit.

Speedo says the LZR aids streamlining and reduces skin vibration and muscle oscillation, but critics say use of the suit is tantamount to "technological doping" and should never have been approved.

Of course, every non-Speedo-sponsored competitive swimmer is panicking, wondering whether to ditch their own lucrative suit contracts and buy their own LZR.

But Croatia's Duje Draganja, the world's fastest man in water (and who wears a LZR), harks back to our own paddler vs. boat debate: "It's a great commercial - it's good, but not that good," he said. "Fast swimmers are fast swimmers. That will always be the case, suit or no suit."

Monday, April 14, 2008

Sinking of the Wahine

It's the 40th anniversary of New Zealand's worst maritime disaster, the sinking of the inter-island ferry the Wahine, on April 10, 1968. I was only six at the time, but I still remember the news. And the photos taken then have been firmly engrained in most Kiwis' consciousness.

Since most Kiwis are only separated by two or three degrees of separation, we probably also knew someone who had been on the ferry that fateful day - the mother of an old friend of mine when I lived in Christchurch was one.

The weather was pretty much to blame - one of those perfect storms. And of the 734 men, women and children aboard, 53 lost their lives. Many of those who died were in the first lifeboat away, which swamped soon after launching.

What is interesting, is that only recently have Kiwis started talking about the disaster. As the New Zealand Herald's editorial stated, "They were undoubtedly encouraged in this by attitudes pervading New Zealand society 40 years ago. This was not a time for what might be thought unnecessary fuss. Survivors were given a cup of tea and sent home. In most cases, there was no talk of compensation. No Government medals for heroism were awarded. The message was to get on with life....

"The answer may lie in a further change emanating, in part, from the 2001 attack on the World Trade Centre. The survivors were encouraged to express their feelings. The firefighters who perished were lionised. In the midst of disaster, America looked for and found heroes.

"New Zealand is also paying ever more heed to its own heroes. The thousands who queued for hours to pay their last respects to Sir Edmund Hillary attest to that. So do the increasing attendances at Anzac Day commemorations. We have, as a society, become more sentimental."

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Bless what bites

Who would have known that those toothy ribbed critters we gingerly paddle past each year during the Everglades Challenge would now have such powers of benefit?

Now it appear that someday, an alligator might save your life.

Researchers in Louisiana say they've discovered unique antibiotic proteins in the blood of American alligators that can kill a wide range of deadly bacteria, halt the spread of common infections, and perhaps even stop HIV, which causes AIDS.

If they're right, and they're able to sequence the genetics of 'gator blood, the researchers say superdrugs based on their findings might be available within 10 years.

So far, the researchers say they've determined that the proteins found in alligator blood can fight 23 different types of bacteria, nearly three times as many as the proteins found in human blood.
At least in lab experiments, proteins extracted from 'gator blood destroyed the bacteria behind deadly staph infections, different fungi behind yeast infections, and in at least one study, most of a sample of HIV.

Apparently, alligators have developed unique immune systems during the course of their long evolution. Unlike us mere mortals, their immune systems can fight off different types of bacteria, viruses and fungi without having been previously exposed to them.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Something hidden...

After my ACGA conference finished for the evening, I jumped in a taxi to another meeting, at the Union League Club of Chicago. Being a jolly foreigner, I'd never heard of the club and its background. But for more than 125 years, the Club has been the place in Chicago where people have gathered to lay the groundwork for various civic projects and organize social and philanthropic undertakings.

We walked up to the fifth floor to find a quiet lounge to discuss our business, and as I walked the marble stairs, I marvelled and drooled at the most amazing art on every single wall. Who knew that such a treasure trove existed!

And there, tucked away on one wall, was a Monet.

Today, the Union League Club of Chicago is recognized as having one of the most important privately held art collections in the region, with more than 750 works of art, including paintings, sculpture, works on paper, and decorative arts – with particular strength in Midwestern artists.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Something different...

So here I am in Chicago, until Friday, at this year's ACGA conference. There's a jolly great lake outside my hotel window, and a couple of eights training up one of the "canals." Not a cloud in the sky, and really quite charming for my first visit to the world's 25th largest city.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Down the Yukon, with a paddle

But which one? The paddle debate will probably never be fully resolved. And it’s something that Dawn and I are certainly having to mull over regarding the 2009 Yukon 1000.

We’re both committed Greenland paddlers, and both use a Lumpy Paddle. But will using a GP – even potentially a carbon fiber GP – make us competitive enough? Should we, therefore, be retraining ourselves to use a wing paddle? The probability is that anyone else entered in the kayak class, either K1 or K2, will be using wings.

Does using a GP not make paddlers competitive enough? I’d be loathe to think so. I finished first in my class in this year’s Everglades Challenge using a GP - and knocked 22 hours off my time from last year - and was the only kayaker solely paddling with a GP.

We have both resolved that we will not be leaving our GPs at home. Whatever paddle we end up using will definitely be supplemented by the GP, to help ease any possible physical strain.

Thoughts would be appreciated!