Paddle softly, and carry a light stick.

After Saturday’s paddling with Rob, he decided to buy the Tampico XL. Tonight was his night to pick it up, so we agreed to meet at Baycreek and break the new boat in.

When I got there, he was getting fitted out with paddle and PFD. He got a really nice PFD – one of the triangular ones that give you lots of room around the shoulders. Much nicer than mine. He also had a very light paddle with a carbon fibre shaft and composite blades. Extremely light, with a blade shaped for high angle paddling (which is my style). I figured it was about a $250 paddle. He said it was used, and he was getting it for $80! I was jealous as hell, especially since there was no visible sign of it being used. But the guy behind the counter corrected him – he said it was $80 off, and so it was $160. Rob recoiled visibly, and started to put it back on the rack. I quickly grabbed it for myself.

I took my old paddle and broke it down and slipped it under the straps on the back of the kayak, and went out for a spin with the new one. The more agressive blade shape meant that every pull rocketed me forward far more than the old paddle. And the lighter weight meant that I could paddle harder for longer.

Rob and I paddled for about two hours, up almost to Browncoft and back. His kayak seems as good as the Merlin he tried on Saturday when it comes to ease of paddling, but maybe with a bit more initial stability. It also seemed like it might be a bit easier to turn, without a pronounced keel line and a bit more rocker. He seemed very happy with it, and I think it’s a good choice for him.

I was very very happy with my new paddle, too. At the end of the hours, it still felt light in my hands, and two quick strokes would get me up to a breaking wake on the bow. I had lots of energy at the end.

Everybody in Rochester owes me money

Last night, a big storm ended a very long drought. Today the temperature is down under 70 degrees, after weeks up over 90 with high humidity. And you want to know why? Because today Taylor Heating came and installed central air conditioning in our new house. I’m predicting that the temperature will stay low for the rest of the year.

Ok, I’m a bastard.

Recently, I noticed that a significant percentage of my web site traffic was for a single image of Blobby the Blue Lobster, all with referrer strings indicating a particular web board. Sure enough, I went there and found that one functional illiterate was using this picture as his avatar in his conversations with a bunch of other functional illiterates.

If you don’t believe me about the functional illiteracy, here is word for word one of his posts to that forum:

OMFG that was so fucking funny i cant belive that people belive that shit haah…john malm wow im so happy hes gone again after reading this.

But i msut say between reading all of that and the XMF interview the romm is freaking spinning ive read alot today including a bunch of video games ahah well tt you all alter

Anyway, I don’t like picture leeches much, and I especially don’t like illiterate ones. So I put the following in my /etc/http/conf/http.conf:

RewriteEngine On
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} ^*$ [NC]
RewriteRule .*blobby.*\.jpg [R,L]

Which directed every request for his avatar to a much smaller picture. But he didn't get the message, even after I wrote to him telling him he should check his avatar. So I took more drastic measures, and yesterday I changed the redirect to an even smaller picture that makes it more explicit.

Today I see on that web board a post from him saying

Ok so i look at my avatar and some guy must have hacked it and it said "I'm a PIcture LEech I suck" and someone ahd contacked me before adn tlaked somethign about my icon that i needed ot refresh it or somethign but it made no sence to me so whats up?>

Amazingly enough, he's changed his avatar, but he's still leeching - the image he's using is on somebody else's site.

Kayaking with Rob

This morning my cow orker Rob and I went kayaking. He’s thinking of buying a kayak, but he’s had numerous knee surgeries so he needs a big cockpit so that he can get in and out. He also wants something that’s not too hard to lift, so he probably doesn’t want a rotomoulded kayak like I have. But he’s in luck – this year there are new materials that are as cheap as rotomoulded, but nearly as light as fibreglas. Almost makes me wish I’d waited a year.

First he tried a Swift Adirondak 13.6 (yes, he’s a Swift Boat Veteran now) which is certainly an easy boat to get in and out (almost canoe like) but it’s short and beamy and not very fast. We took it easy and had a nice slow paddle. We went up past the weir and turned around at the same place where Vicki and I turned around the first time we paddled up the creek.

On the way back, Rob was starting to notice how much easier it was for me to paddle than for him. And when we got back, he asked for something sleeker, and they suggested he try a Hurricane Tampico XL. But the only one they had was out already, so they said he should wait. While he was poking around looking at what they had, I picked up the paddle he had been using. It was carbon fiber, and very, very light. I took it out for a quick paddle around, and it was beautiful. It was like getting a second wind. Unfortunately it costs $290. I know what I want for my birthday next year.

Rather than waiting for the Tampico, we went across the street to check out Oak Orchard. They have a big selection of kayaks as well. At first, Rob and I found the guy manning the store a bit odd, and not very “together”. But after a while we warmed to him as he seemed to get it together, or we figured out what he was getting at, or something. He put Rob in a Eddyline Merlin XT, which is longer than the Adirondak, and also had a more pronounced V-hull. Rob found it a bit more difficult to get in than the Adirondak, and also because of the more agressive hull shape it felt a bit “trembly”. The guy gave him some really good advice about dealing with the lack of stability, and I think it worked. Rob and I paddled a bit around the bay, so he was dealing with a boat with a lot less initial stability than the one he’d been using before, but also waves and wake and wind. We paddled up and down a bit, and it was obvious that the boat was way faster than the previous one, and pretty close to the speed of mine. Obviously a nice boat, and a good choice for him.

Rob didn’t want to make a decision right away, so we went out to lunch afterwards, and afterwards I went home and he went back to BayCreek to try that Tampico.

Photo Contest

I’m trying to get some entries ready for the Entertainment Imaging employees photo contest. The entries I’m considering are at Gallery :: Photo Contest.

The contest categories are

  • Nature
  • People
  • Photojournalism
  • Architecture
  • …uh, there are one or two others, I think
  • Open

Open is used for things that don’t fit other categories, but it’s also supposed to be where we put pictures that have lots of effects applied. You’re only allowed two entries in each category, so you have to be careful that the ones you enter are the best ones you have in each category.

photo_contest/whale_jump_sharpenedI’ve got this one as a pretty strong entry for the Nature category. The only problem with it that I can see is that it’s a small picture – the judges like pictures that take up most of an 8.5×11″ page. I worry that blowing it up will make it too fuzzy.

photo_contest/baiyunAnother candidate for the Nature category is this picture of Baiyun. Yes, they specifically cautioned that pets go in Nature not in People. I took this picture of Baiyun in direct sunlight with the room behind him normally bright, so in contrast it came out very dark. I actually manually darkened a bit of the background where some light splashed in, and when you look at it in full magnification it doesn’t come out very well – I’m going to have to fix that, I think. I was using the “Clone Stamp” tool I think it’s called. But it would be better to select that area and just paint it black, I think.

photo_contest/kayakI had this picture that I like, but I wasn’t sure it was photo contest material. So I played with it a bit, and came up with this somewhat surreal picture, which I think I could enter it in the Open category. I like the idea of masking out Vicki and the kayak, and doing something with the rest of the picture, but I’m not sure that this “something” is the right “something”. I kind of liked it when I inversed the colours instead. Maybe I’ll put that up in the gallery and let you decide.

photo_contest/007_4ASince I have what I think are two good candidates for the Nature category, I’m not sure what to do with the remaining pictures, except this sculpture, being man made, could go in the Architecture category.