May 17

That time a seal scared a submarine

Today we went kayaking in the Atlantic, at Applecross. The water was calm and the sun was out and the weather was lovely. It was a perfect sort of day for it. We paddled in the morning and afternoon, with a local guide, who took this picture:


Our guide, Iian, started out with about 10 clients and we outlasted the rest of them. Late in the day we went to see the seals. It was a full day, covering about 12 kilometers, so not quite eight miles.

I am sending videos home to briefly describe our day. Here’s the report I filed today:

See, what had happened was, our guide Iian was telling us about how out in the main channel the British often come and test their submarines. Sometimes, he said, you can see their masts break break the surface. While we were on our way to see the seals, one of them startled a submarine. And the submarine got startled, rose near the surface and knocked over my orange kayak.

That story is much better than this one: The Yankee had stopped paddling and came to a complete stop. she said. And as I was coming up alongside of her I stopped paddling. Only I was still drifting. Just as I was making some sort of move to not run into her, she said “A seal!” And then, suddenly, I was upside down.

I quickly remembered this video I’d seen years ago about how kayakers roll their boats back over. It has to do with the hips. And then I quickly remembered that I’d never tried that before. Never been in a kayak before. And so I then quickly remembered what Iian told me earlier in the day. You simply reach forward, pull on this strap on the black spray skirt that keeps you in and water out and your problem is solved. That seemed easier. I did that.

So I came to the surface and flipped my kayak back right-side up. Iian, for some reason, told me to turn it over again. So I did, and then he came alongside, flipped it over, told me to swim around the back and held on while instructing me how to get back in.

Hey, the water was cold. While in college, I once dove with manatees in Defuniak Springs in 56-degree water. But today’s 48 is a new personal record. As soon as I climbed out of the water, though, I mean immediately, I was warm and fine.

Off came my hat, down went my sunglasses. Into the water went our snacks. I think I scared Iian, who really wanted me to take it easy and collect myself. But I was fine, naval disaster aside. That’s what happens when seals scare submarines.

Seriously, this is how flat the water was:


We ate dinner under a little tent outside of the Applecross pub. We’re in a part of the world here where your dining options are limited, but all of the food has been grand.

Later, we saw this Highland cow:

Some of the other livestock we saw today:

Highland coo

Highland coo


And some of the things we saw while driving back to our room in Shieldaig this evening:

Highland coo

Highland coo

Highland coo

Highland coo

Some of those will wind up as banners here on the blog. Just as soon as my arms stop hurting from all of that paddling.

May 17

Send sleep

Do you know that feeling where you have things to do and then you try to measure it all out? You know, so you don’t have to do everything at one time?

I’m pretty decent, I think, at pacing these things out. So my week has been fairly successful. I have one, or maybe two, little chores to get through tomorrow, but have gotten the house cleaned, blinds installed, laundry done, and more or less eaten food from time to time.

I could sleep more, but I’m an artist, and sleep deprivation is my canvas this week. I could have ridden my bike a bit more, but I’ve managed to talk myself out of it a few times. One day I learn the biggest lesson about the bike: You only regret the rides you don’t take.

Like, for instance, today. I was going to ride, but I had to work a bit late. And then it rained, and I had to get back to my errands and chores and that was the night. So skipping a ride on Tuesday and Wednesday caught up to me, and so I can only regret those I missed out on.

But I watched a bike race tonight, so there’s that.

Tomorrow, I am getting a new phone. So there’s that.

May 17

Oh no, we have slowed because H20 has flowed

On tonight’s group ride we went slowly. One of the fastest guys in town was there, but he was in a chatty mood. And various other people were only interested in seeing standing moisture on the road and stopping for it almost entirely, as if the gathering of three molecules in a specific formulation in the smallest of volumes could harm their bicycles.

We stopped a lot. Four times in a 24-mile ride. That’s barely enough to get and keep the heart rate where you might like it. These were flowers I found at the first stop, after just six miles of riding:


Those four stops took place because this is a no-drop group, which means there are plenty of chances to regroup. Or stop and wait, depending on where you are in the scheme of things. The four stops we counted do not include a fifth stop.

Topping the biggest climb of the day, a long and slow 330 feet or so that has hurt me each of the few times I’ve done it, one of the riders in the group had an accident a bit ahead of me. When I got to the top of the hill there were already two cars stopped and someone said a rider had been hit, which sends a chill. But it seems a dog ran out in front of the rider and she took a tumble. Fortunately, she was OK. And fortunately one of the riders was a physician, and one of the people that stopped was a paramedic. After a few minutes, some Neosporin and a few small bandages, she pronounced herself OK, got up and we all rode off down the hill.

The larger group made one last stop, but we skipped it. We were close to darkness, because all of these stops had made a 24-mile ride into nearly two hours. It was damp and chilly and a tiny bit frustrating. I think I am coming to form my opinion on group rides.

On the way back to the house we have to pass over a creek, which was almost ready to to threaten the high banks after more than a week of rain:

flooding creek

All of the water here is swiftly moving, which is more than we can say about our ride this evening.

May 17

Mors Ab Alto

I remember the 1970s. Not in realtime, because I was too young and my memory is too sketchy. But I remember the 1970s much better after the fact, because the 1970s did not end on December 31st, no. And they didn’t end, entirely, when Ronald Reagan was inaugurated. No. The 1970s were a decade that wanted to hold on —
because the Boomers couldn’t acknowledge the idea that the Sixties were even farther away, I suppose — and that’s how I have most of my memories of the 1970s.

Take the game of death from above. Yes, we had a lawn dart set. The Regent Jarts, as I recall. The packaging looked like this. We had those things long after every other neighbor was concerned for their kids safety. I don’t remember them being played much really, probably for safety reasons, but I do remember them being in the basement.

They’d been banned before, but that was somehow overturned in court. And then the lawn dart manufacturing special interests lucked out and found a huge hit on their hands in the 1980s. But there were injuries, too many injuries, thousands of them when people started looking at the data, and at least one death. A grieving father worked tirelessly to get the things banned and, just before the issue was to be considered by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, another child was put into a coma following a lawn dart accident.

So in 1988, just before Christmas, the things were banned in the United States. Soon after, Canada followed. Today, you can buy replacement parts, new metal points or the plastic fletching. But you can’t purchase the finished product.

You can, however, pick this up at Kroger:


I remember the 1970s. Back then, outdoor toys didn’t always use the word “fitness” as a marketing toy. That started in the 1990s.

Apr 17

What day is it?

I skimmed through Twitter before I sat down to write this, as I sometimes do. And I had three intelligent tweets in a row. That’s worth pointing out:

Elsewhere, another day at the office. We’ve wrapped up all of the shows, except for one final shoot tomorrow. There are oral histories being booked and recorded. Classes are winding down. Parties and end-of-the-school-year meetings are being held. I attended two of the former and one of the latter. I got a nice thank you card.

And I thought I might start going through some old videos. I had this idea last week while I was working on new video graphics. (I have three new opening and closing videos after spending some quality time with After Effects.) So here is something I shot in Belgium in 2015:

The Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula is a Roman Catholic church in the heart of Brussels. Beautiful church. Worship here is thought to date back to the ninth century. The current structure was built between the 13th and 16th centuries. The stained glass windows and confessionals go back that far. The pulpit was added in the 17th century and the carillon, heard here, was installed in 1975. During 20th century restorations the remains of a Romanesque church and a Romanesque crypt were discovered.

And now I want another Belgian waffle.