Boston Marathon

Laura and I thank all of you for kind words and expressions of support following the tragic events at the Boston Marathon this year.  I wanted to share with you my post on the Boston Athletic Association Boston Marathon Facebook page in the immediate aftermath of the bombings:
I was runner bib number 20859, one of the several thousand Boston Marathon runners who were stopped on the course when the bombs went off. I was about a half mile from the finish line, but my wife, my daughter and her husband were on a balcony of the Boston Public Library overlooking the finish line and right across from the site of the first bomb. Fortunately, none of us were hurt, although the window behind my family was broken by the blast, possibly by a piece of shrapnel that would have flown past their heads, and they will be haunted forever by the images of carnage and dismemberment they witnessed.
We are thankful for the actions of the first responders who disregarded their own safety and ran towards the blast to help the victims. Their prompt actions undoubtedly saved lives. We are thankful for the people who let me use their cell phones to get in touch with my family, reassure each other that we were not hurt, and arrange to meet. We are thankful for the volunteer who handed out plastic trash bags for the runners to wear to keep warm after they stopped running. And we are thankful for the Boston University student who accompanied me in my translucent white plastic trash bag as I walked down Commonwealth Avenue towards our meeting point.
The next morning all four of us went to downtown Boston to pick up my baggage.
interview photo
I was surprised to also be handed a finisher’s medal, but somehow it felt right, even though I did not actually finish the race. I hope there will be some way to list all those still out on the course in the official results with some appropriate designation. I don’t care if it shows projected finish time, last split, or no time at all. It is one way of letting the world know that whoever was responsible did not, and could not stop us – that we will finish the course whatever it takes.
This was to be my last marathon. I had promised my wife that I would not run another because of the toll the training and running takes in terms of time commitment and physical stress. But when I picked up my medal, and saw Newbury Street deserted and crime scene personnel everywhere, I knew that I had to come back next year and hope that I will be allowed to enter without a new qualifying time. If I do not come back, for whatever reason, then terrorists may think that they can win, and that must not be allowed to happen.
I hope we are all back next year to make the 2014 Boston Marathon bigger than ever, so that Massachusetts will once again fire “a shot heard ‘round the world” when the race starts on Patriot’s Day.

Open Boaters – A Kayaker's View

They seem to be popping up everywhere, swarms of open boaters descending class 4 and 5 drops previously paddled mainly by kayak and one or two reckless souls in an open boat. What is the cause of this phenomenon?
It really can’t be the sleek lines of the newer model boats. Most of them kind of resemble a skinny plastic bathtub. But recent design innovations have seemingly spurred interest in what once was more of a fringe area in the world of class 4 & 5 whitewater boating.
It surely cannot be because of the convenience of paddling an open boat. Most of them have to stop to dewater more often than my 10-year-old daughter after sucking down a “Big Gulp” on the car ride to Disney World. And lets face it, the things are heavy and awkward to carry around.
The eastern open boaters seem to be divided into two separate groups with decidedly different personalities. The northern group seems to tolerate kayakers pretty well, often paddling alongside kayaks in mixed groups. Then there are the southern boaters. They are almost militant in their fanatical devotion to the sport, openly derisive of the “butt boaters” paddling kayaks. Taunting them with claims of “half the paddle, twice the man” and other emasculating statements. It’s a game really, while most of them wouldn’t be caught dead paddling a kayak, the taunts are all good-natured and everybody is out having a good time on the river.
As much as it pains me to admit, I have quite a bit of admiration for open boat paddlers. Lets face it, it is harder to paddle with one blade. I have heard the open boaters discussing the lines when scouting a drop. They have to plan each paddle stroke, timing them so that they are on the correct side to make a move through the current. Some lines are easier for right hand paddlers while others are more suited to left hand paddlers. The open boater has to be much more aware of the water and how his boat will react than a kayaker need be.
Open boaters also have to look for a “dry” line through a rapid. They have to be very conscious of a large wave or hole swamping their boat and leaving them to paddle a sluggish unresponsive tub down the remainder of the drop.
In short, open boaters have to be much more aware of what the water is doing and of what they will have to do to compensate for the currents. I just think it takes a little more skill.
So why do I paddle a Kayak? I simply love to get wet. I am always looking for what the open boaters are generally trying to avoid. I love crashing through holes, sitting up to my neck in the middle of a writhing pile of foam then having my bow shoot skyward while I frantically brace to keep myself upright. I love the chaos in the middle of a class 5 drop and riding down the center of a huge wave train getting thrown left and right.
I even enjoy the feeling of getting swirled around while inverted in a hole. Its kind of fun. I know I’m not the only kayaker to feel that way. There were plenty of people jumping into the frantic, seething class 5 water in front of Pillow Rock at the Gauleyfest. We did it for the adrenalin rush of being at the mercy of the raging torrent, uncertain of when and where we might emerge to catch or next breath.
I guess I’ll keep my kayak

Otters

Otters are semi-aquatic (or in one case aquatic) mammals. The otter subfamily Lutrinae forms part of the family Mustelidae, which also includes weasels, polecats, badgers, and wolverines. With twelve species in seven genera, otters have an almost worldwide distribution. They mainly eat aquatic animals, predominantly fish and shellfish, but also other invertebrates, amphibians, birds and small mammals.
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Otters have long, slim bodies and relatively short limbs, with webbed paws. Most have sharp claws on their feet, and all except the sea otter have long muscular tails. The twelve species range in adult size from 0.7 to 1.8 metres (2 to 6 feet) in length and 5 to 45 kilograms (11 to 100 pounds) in weight.
They have a very soft, insulated underfur which is protected by their outer layer of long guard hair. This traps a layer of air, and keeps them dry and warm under water.
This information from Wikipedia.