Many are cold, few are frozen

At 10:00 o’clock this morning, I was sitting at my computer watching it snow. It was supposed to get up to 37°F today, but it was hovering around 30 and snowing pretty hard. I hunted down my cell phone and discovered that Dan had left a message on it – the canal by his house was frozen, so instead of meeting at his place at the usual 12:30, he was going to paddle at the Genesee Waterway Center (GWC) at 1pm, and he wanted to know if I was coming. Of course I’m coming. I quickly phoned him back.

When I showed up at GWC, the others weren’t there yet. It was bitter cold and the wind was blowing straight down the river. I added a t-shirt and windbreaker to my polartherm and wore my PFD, which I haven’t been wearing on the canal. The river is deep and wide, and if I went in there I couldn’t be out in seconds like I could in the canal. Unfortunately I haven’t worn the PFD over all that clothing in a while, and while it felt fine on land when I tried paddling it restricted my ability to breathe. It’s amazing how tired you feel when you can’t breathe.

Second to arrive was Jim Mallory, and then Dan. While Jim and I were getting in our kayaks, Steve showed up. So far I think Steve is the only other person as crazy as me about showing up no matter what the weather. While Dan and Steve were getting ready is when I discovered the problem with the PFD, and took steps to loosen it up. Once that was taken care of, it wasn’t so bad – both in terms of being able to paddle well, and also being comfortable with the temperature.

Having the four of us was great. Dan stayed with me and worked on my technique, while Steve couldn’t possibly outrun former Olympian Jim Mallory. Jim’s technique is every bit as good as Dan’s, if not better, and he’s a professor at NTID, so he can teach as well.

I had a very satisfying work out. The only problem is that once I finished, the sweat condensed and cooled down, my hands were no longer protected by my pogies, and it was *cold*. Colder than I’ve been since last winter. I got my kayak up on my roof rack as quickly as I could and headed home. But I’m sure glad I went.

Dan’s dock: 5, Me: 1

I went kayaking at Dan’s again. We were joined by Paul D, Doug, and Dan. We were briefly joined by Jim Mallory, a former Olympic kayaker and a colleague of Vicki’s – but he had to leave when the kayak he was paddling filled up with water up to … the top of his seat, and it got too uncomfortable to continue. The kayak he was paddling looked ratty and was patched with tape in multiple places, so it was no wonder it leaked. I think he said he bought it used for a few hundred bucks. Cheap at half the price.

It was 39°F and breezy. I debated wearing a windbreaker, but I’d worn one last week and was too warm. So I decided to suffer until I warmed up a bit. We found a nice stretch of the canal without much wind and paddled up and down that 1000-1500 metres. The first time up, the four of us cut through a bit of ice, but we didn’t see it again so it must have broken up and drifted aside.

It was an exhausting work-out. I think I’m getting better at keeping up with the rest of them, but it’s still extremely tiring. I pooped out before the other guys, so I headed back to the dock alone. And that’s when my troubles started.

You see, since getting my Looksha, last Sunday was the first and so far only time I’ve managed to get out of it alone at Dan’s dock. Dan’s dock is too high up for me to do the standard paddle across the back of the cockpit brace. Every other time I’ve either had somebody else to help stabilize the boat, or I’ve given up and gone to the rocky shore to brace with the paddle. Because last time I managed to actually get out alone, I thought I’d be ok. But I don’t know if it’s because I was tired, or because there was a strong wind blowing that caused me to drift away from the dock as soon as I tried to put both hands on the back of the cockpit. But after a lot of struggle, I gave up and went over to the rocks again. That works, but of course I end up putting my feet down in the water. Woo, that was cold.

More madness

This morning I went flying. First time since I got back from Oshkosh. I had to take the club’s Dakota out to Batavia for its annual. It reminded me what I loved and everything I hated about flying. It took an hour to scrape the snow and ice off the wings, and then it took most of the way to Batavia to get my toes to stop freezing. I made a couple of rookie mistakes on the departure, including making a wrong turn on the taxiway and actually forgetting to push the push-to-talk at one point. But by the time I got to Batavia things were going pretty good, and I made three perfect landings. I definitely need to squeeze in some time to do this more often.

This afternoon I went paddling. It was even colder than last week, but it wasn’t windy at all and it wasn’t snowing and blowing like last week. I wore an anorak over the wet suit and polytherm I wore last week, and it was too much – I actually ended up taking off my toque for much of the time. As well as Dan and Steven, we also had Doug along. He hasn’t been out for a while, and his boat still has his race number for the Long Lake race on it. Steven was trying a different boat, the KayakPro Marlin that I kept asking Ken to try all year but the rudder wasn’t working. And sure enough, half way through it the rudder broke again. Doug and I paddled on ahead while Dan and Steven worked on the boat, and next time we saw them Dan was in the KayakPro Marlin and Steven was in the Epic 18X that he’d been trying last week.

There was a ice on parts of the canal – for much of it there was ice up against one bank or the other coming out a few feet. It was thin enough that if you got into it you could paddle through it and it would break. But far more fun was to paddle along beside it, because as your wake flexed the ice sheet it made a sound very much like electrical wires twanging in the breeze. It was erie and cool.

Dan was in top form today, taking time to call out encouragement and advice to everybody about their strokes. He was really riding Stephen’s ass too – it seemed almost mean, but Stephen gives as good as he gets and still has that desire to start paddling like crazy when he should be slowing down and thinking. I was doing an ok job of hanging on to Doug when he was paddling at a moderate pace, which I thought was a sign how far I’d progressed. I still need to work on not letting my technique fall apart when I’m tired or when I’m thinking of other things.

Oh, and just to top a perfect day, I was able to get out of my kayak at Dan’s dock without help for the first time. Now if only I could get the spray skirt on without help.

It never fails

It never fails that when on “FAA Data Reload Day” (which occurs every 56 days on the ICAO cycle), I manage to screw something up and end up staying up late. It doesn’t matter how early I start.

Today’s screw up was after loading the data, I realized that I’d done something wrong, and needed to restore the database to the state it was before I started the load. For reasons too complicated to go into here, I load the data on my home Linux box, and then scp it up to my colo box where the web site lives. The database that lives on my home box doesn’t have all the same tables as the one on my colo box, just the tables that are important to data loading.

So, I thought, the easiest way to get back to the data as it was before the data load is to upload the script I use to export the appropriate tables on the home box to the colo box, run it there, copy the file back to the home box and load it. Except after I loaded it, I noticed a distinct lack of data on my home box. As a matter of fact, it appears that the load went way too fast, like it had no data at all. A quick look at the export file confirmed that there wasn’t any data in it, just some table deletion and creation stuff. Oh oh.

That’s when I realized that one of the consequences of having different versions of PostgreSQL on the two boxes was that “pg_dump … -t waypoint -t comm_freqs -t runway…” works on my home box, but not on the colo. Not thinking too straight, I then used a ‘for table in …” command to run pg_dump on each table individually. When I copied them home, I discovered that this messed up the foreign keys rather badly. So I tried to manually stitch all the files together. That wasn’t working very well, because I had things in the wrong order and the foreign key stuff still wasn’t right.

That’s when it suddenly hit me. Duh. The whole reason I have an external drive on my machine is so that I can do hourly rsync backups. I have a copy of the postgis.dump file that I copied over 56 days ago. As a matter of fact, I have dozens of copies of it. The only reason I was avoiding it was because I had done a few small manual modifications to the database since then. But those were still in the history buffer of psql, and so they were easy to reproduce. I restored the backup, made the changes at around 10:45, ran the updates again, and now here it is at 11:30 and everything is finally done.

I just hope this doesn’t happen again in 56 days, although I’m sure it will.