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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

"One Day At A Time...."

New Years Eve Day, Wow! Where did it all go? Everywhere I suspect. I don't make New Years resolutions however I do have New Years hopes. I wish that the warmth of these sun's rays could permeate the hearts of the world and stop fighting and killing. I simply can't imagine a day with war in my yard and others can't imagine what it would be like to have a yard without war and terror. I'm beginning to hate land not the beauty it can provide but the "possession" aspect of it all....... the borders. I believe the earth belongs to all of us. I own Africa as much as Africa owns me. We are putting more "dumb" in free-dum, and very much less "free". Where are the lands of "freedoms?" I saw a poster a while back, it was an RCMP officer holding a dead child at a car wreck with beer bottles around the accident scene, the caption, "Who is the Pig now?" What really does it take for people to "get-it"? I know, spoken like someone who has never had a battle in his back yard, but my back yard is yours and even more so as more and more dead Canadians fly home to their families to be entombed in the very soil they fought for from a piece of land as foreign to them as "my Africa" would be to me, and as my son heads for boot camp on January 17th, 2009 in the ROTP of the Canadian Forces, my heart is full of pride and despair, what conflicting emotions! I believe in a new word, "sacrificedom", with sacrificedom there is no hint of reward for having achieved something, like getting your freedom because......every man and woman should be free regardless of the land. Sacrificedom, you may never be free but everything you do every part of everyday is worth something to everyone and it is now... not something you may get in the future like freedom, sacrificedom may set you free but it will reward you in the now, because you know how valuable you are all the time everyday cause sometimes just breathing air when others may be unable a sacrifice.

Which brings me to water. No visible borders or walls, sure they exist in someones mind. Not mine. Kayaking is as close to freedom as I feel I will ever get..... my sacrificedom. To some, how insignificant, self indulgent and non-relevant to the grand scheme of things it must be, whatever the grand scheme of things is......

I know I'm going into the New Year confused but I look forward to finding my way as the year progresses probably depending on many "compasses" to guide me through. One day at a time, one day at a time..........

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

"Weather In December"

 A bit of a synopsis of what it has been like here in St. John's NL.
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"Over The Horizon"

 Most times when one is out paddling with others you are reasonably well within close formation or hugging the shoreline or at least within earshot.....most times. So you don't get to see fellow paddlers come at you from over the horizon unless of course you land first and paddlers are dallying behind you for whatever reason. It gives a cool perspective when you scan the horizon and see nothing there and then slowly watch a kayak emerge coming at you head on and then another. Kayaks sometimes seem so out of place on such a huge spance of water and most times they look like they belong more than other craft, to me simply because of their ability to go near shallow shoreline waters and deep ocean waters, not many boats can make that claim nor boaters. Have you ever paddled far enough offshore that land disappears? It is as exhilirating as it can be unnerving. When you are able to view kayaks coming over the horizon you can feel that thrill of adventure that courses through you because you know they just came from out of no-where really but somewhere really indeed to them! Holding back the ocean in their wake and looking like torpedos with heads and wings.

Malcolm and Tony were gliding over the wall off the Horizon on one such outing in South Brigus this Fall.
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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

"Merry Christmas"

 From our Family to yours. My son and his partner, Matthew and Charlene are missing but next year we hope to be together with all our family. We love and miss you both out there in cold Alberta. You are definitely in our hearts.
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Tuesday, December 23, 2008


 Contemplation was an important part of the philosophy of Plato and that through it the soul would ascend to knowledge. My idea of contemplation is more connected to meditation or self-reflection. I find that kayaking can for extended periods, put you in a relaxed state of personal blissfulness. Something that more or less transcends the actual mechanical status of motion and propulsion, though these may be useful or perhaps essential to getting to that stage where you seem to not notice you are on the water at all but just somewhere peaceful. Long paddles I find will do that or paddles where the environment is so conducive to distraction that a slide into blissfulness is made that much easier and the deepness of ones thoughts are focused and maintained but in a soothing and calm way and you can sometimes paddle this way and not even notice the distance you have covered or the scenery that has passed you by.

This picture from the end of this summer reminds me of that because it was a paddle with very repetitive coast line, a fine drizzle, fairly calm but getting cool wind and a long stretch of kayaking almost alone. I was lulled, if you would, or lost in my thoughts but I don't think I was thinking, I was just so engrossed in the paddle and surroundings that everything else was literally blocked out and being where you are at that time felt like where you really were supposed to be. So when I left my contemplation the senses were flooded by the colors, the sounds, the touch, the taste and the smells of the water, the air and the sky all around. Serene, peaceful and full of all that is earthly. And of course Tony who's companionship on the water allows for such contemplative moments.
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Monday, December 22, 2008


Cetus refers to a sea monster in Greek Mtyhology. In kayaking it is an ocean kayak made by P & H Kayaks. The name refers to a whale by today's standards I guess. The two Galaxies above however lie in the Constellation Cetus, 900 million light years away from Earth....a lengthy paddle astronomically. These two Galaxies are oriented to mark the number 10 which is ironic because the Hubble was off line for a while and when it came back on in October 2008(tenth month) it snapped this image. Call it alignment, call it all in the stars, or simply call it star gas: there are a few things for sure,1. we are all descendents of stars and you really don't need drugs to realize this; 2. we are insignificant astronomically and if other life exists they probably avoid us for our lack of intelligence; 3. I thnik "Cetus X" would be a good name for a kayak (especially if it was made in October of 2008); 4. There probably isn't such a thing as time and space as we know it; 5. and you think think Black Holes on Earth are bad!; 6. when the spaceman..creature commeth back ...I hope he travels in a kayak and brings us a new composite; 7. if the Hubble continues to Humble will we inevitably see intergallactic first descents?; 8. when will there be a kayaking constellation named....will it be called "Freya"?; 9. are whales really our unknown medium for communicating beyond our planet and if so can kayakers be the "Priests" and purchase kayaks and gear tax-free? and 10. the next time a comet goes by can you stop the world and let me off to catch a ride because there is a methane wave on Europa off Jupiter I haven't surfed yet. And I'll continue to keep my head in the clouds....stars again for next year.

There are unbelieveable pictures from the Hubble Telescope posted on the web by NASA. They are beautiful images of the outer reaches of our universe. When you gaze on them it would be so arrogantly human to suppose we were alone.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

"On Britches and Gadgets""

My neighbour stopped by today to ask how the cod jigs he sold me had worked this summer, well I said I had not much luck but I don't think it had anything to do with the jig. At any rate he ended up giving me some Cod, must of felt sorry for me, nice guy and probably not.....but I am getting side tracked. When he gave me the cod he also gave me some "britches" to try. My first time and they were delicious. Not familiar to me but delicious, as was the cod. I believe it is the roe of the cod that really is shaped like a pair of "britches". I had to google of course and found that the name also was given to some macaque monkey who was born into a breeding colony at the University of California. The word britches gets around. For example growing up as a child when I got into the odd bit of mischief ;-), my Mom would inevitably say that ,"I was getting too big for my britches". Something more to do with being out of line to put it nicely rather than getting to big for my clothes.

On a kayaking related note the picture is of a new kayak deck spare paddle holder from Northwater called, are you ready? "paddlebritches". If you are or are not familiar with Northwater they produce some very practical kayaking accessories and safety gear. will get you to their site. The kayaking Instructor's Blog gave it a good review. I like gadgets but have not tried this yet. Their peaked deck bag rocks and I use it on every trip as well as their tow and tether lines. The Paddlebritches are made out of a 1000 weight cordura and may be useful for also securing part of a fishing rod which I had a bit of a problem doing during the cod fishery here in Newfoundland. Sort of a two bird with one stone kind-of-a-thing. They retail for $29.95 cdn. Dear me!! Another gadget but I am rationalizing, like a true committer(i know this is not a word yet) to the purchase, that it is very practical, has a few purposes and may even be easy on the kayak deck paint job sliding spare paddles in and out. Ok, I'm convinced....where do I buy

On another note I thought one day when I was over come by waves in following seas how it would be nice to see what was behind me without turning my head in bad conditions. Well this image of a "clamp on paddle mirror" came to mind and I started researching the idea and to see if any suppliers of kayaking gear had actually developed a mirror for a kayak paddle or for the deck of a kayak, nerdy I know and maybe not as practical as "Paddlebritches" but all ideas have an "infancy". What I found much to my astonishment was that someone had already taken out a patent on it. Still haven't seen one for retail though. Just another kayaker on another "pipe" (paddle) dream.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

"Pool Action"

Wasn't really planning on the pool this evening but it was the last pool session before the new year. There was lots of action. Darren doing playboat flips and Dave doing enders in what looked to me like a slalom boat. Always good to see the talent that our White Water crowd has. For me it was lots of rolling and sculling braces and I am sorry that I missed the opportunity to try Malcolm's fleet of Valley Seas. Another time perhaps. It was Merry Christmas to all and more in the New Year.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

"Distant Kelly's Island"

 It would have been a hard slog in 70km winds today to try and make Kelly's Island. The short session today was merely to say "we could" on this day in December and being outside exercising the lats works for me. I did manage to catch some sweet waves today and some surfs felt like minutes in duration and others just being wasted by the wave's crest sucking you in. Still there were wave walls where the full brunt of the wave hits you square and on one such occaisson tody the force was so great and unexpected that it almost knocked me to the back deck, quickly adjust and snake through the next onslaught.
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"Wave Hoppin'"

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It was pretty much wave hoppin'today in St. Philips winds were about 55-60 km gusting to 70-75. The air temp was a pleasant 13 degrees Celsius but the water was a bit chilly. Tony as always tuned to the task at hand. Not bad for Dec.13th. Maybe there will be more paddling before the year is out.
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"Mummering (Jannying) and The Ugly Stick"

Now it may be hard to seperate me from the ugly stick so I enlarged the Ugly Stick Image. The one with the pretty berrats. Mummering is an old English tradition that lives on in NL at Christmas time. The lower orders ceased work and amused themselves during the season by dressing in fantastic disguises, gaudy clothing with painted faces and pillow cases over the heads, men in women clothes and women in mens. THey paraded the streets, playing practical jokes on each other and passers-by, performing rude dances and soliciting money or grog. They called themselves fools and mummers.

In Newfoundland it begins with a harsh knock on the back door and everyone standing ready to extend a welcome to the comic characters draped in funny clothes and veiled in funny masks. Inside they seat themselves in the kitchen there is lots of conversation in the strangest tones trying to find out who is who. Some love the detection and others resent it. Naturally they ask for Christmas cake and something strong to drink with it, grog (rum),everyone accepts this sweet request and the glasses are handed round. There is raucous and dance in rubber boots on the wrong feet harmonica in the mouth and an accordian in the hands. Fun moments are head and then the Mummers move on. Of course there is the Mummers song and sometimes they bring their own instruments.

The Ugly stick is one such Mummers music letting tool. It consists of a braided mop with hair berrats, and spikes with flattened beer caps for a tambourine effect and of course the base board for the tapping of the stick while on the floor there is also a tuning rod or "bow" of sorts that is corrugated and rubbed against the decorated mop handle or banged against it while tapping the mop on the base board on the floor and all in tune to the Mummering song we were attempting to play. All in fun and laughter and all in the spirit of the season.

Sunday, December 07, 2008


 Ritual is a set of actions often thought to have symbolic values, the performance of which , says wikipedia, is usually prescribed by a religion or by the tradition of a community by religious or political laws. Perhaps being part of something bigger than ourselves. Tony and I have a "ritual" when we paddle out of St. Philips and that is after the paddle,we clean ourselves of salt water in the stream that runs down to the ocean side and pools in a small cove. The salt and the fresh water blend but the further up the stream you go the more fresh water obviously. It is in essence a part of the paddle we look forward to because we clean the nasty salt water from ourselves and our things so as to prevent it's destructive corrosive forces from reeking havoc on our gear and boats. It is contemplative time as we engross ourselves in the task but also reflective as we discuss the days paddle. It is convenient for sure and usually the outside bay offers enough challenges for a days outing.

Rituals can be thought of as a sort of compliance to ideals, satisfaction of emotional needs, strengthening of social bonds, demonstration of respect or sometimes just obtaining social acceptance or approval and sometimes just for the ritual itself. If kayaking were a religion, I more times than not think it may be, then our fresh water cleansing would be one of its rituals for all the reasons mentioned. It is ironic that it in someways may mimic those of a religious religion. I am certainly not religious in the since of the God implications and traditional religions, but can honestly find spirituality in kayaking.

Kayaking continues, in my experience, to bring people together in such a positive way and for such a positive purpose, which may be very individualized depending on the person but that is the beauty of it all, you can still maintain your own individual kayaking mentality but still belong or be part of the "kayaking community". I know I express my skills differently than the next kayaker but there still has to be basic similarities because that is the nature of the sport itself there are still rules and laws that involve organization as much as it does physics and, humanity as much as it does the environment and psychology.

So as I put lights on my Christmas Tree as part of yearly ritual owning in itself to a religion of which I have long since been removed, I feel somewhat hypocritical, but at the same time enlightened in knowing that a kayaking "religion" of sorts I have made over the years for myself may as well be celebrated and seek thanks to the kayaking Gods for providing me and my good friend Tony, and all kayakers in our community, with another safe paddling year. Joyous Kayak! This is a shot of Tony heading for our paddling ritual. The beauty of the spot lends itself to the fulfilment of the task.
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Tuesday, December 02, 2008

"Pool Yaks"

 Well tonight these boats can be called pool kayaks I guess. I just think kayaks look so sleek and esthetically pleasing to the eye. Of course it is always a treat to try different boats but it is also nice to see how each boater handles his kayak. Not only the skills that one draws on, excuse the pun, when on the water but the affirmation that this is "my" boat and it is my toy of sorts and one we can own as adults or at least appreciate as adults to a degree maybe not there when we are young. Maybe it is just possession of a material good and a a carnal knowledge that , yes I can control one of these. Maybe it is just the dream state you lapse into when you stare upon one for any length of time when you imagine the trips you've had or the trips yet to be taken. It could be the anticipation of adventure that rips thru your skull when those deck colors gleam at you or maybe it is just the peace you feel when you loath for that next escape from everything but the quiet sound of paddle through water and the receding drops down the shaft of the paddle and the odd drop that hits your brow and you know that you are where you are supposed to be.
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Sunday, November 30, 2008


 Tony you probably got to see your Denver Broncos when we got back and I got to see the the Pittsburgh Steelers but missed the New York Giants. Broncos fared not bad at all today. Was hopin' for a loss for Indy though. Anyways smiling on the water only means one thing........kayaking really does rock, especially on days when ya know you can go home, have a hot shower and watch some Sunday football and dine on wings with hot sauce. Phewwww Sundays....have to prepare for students at work tomorrow though, guess it can't be all play.
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"Chasin'-Tony and A Head Wind"

Today we just paddled for fun and exercise in windy conditions and rough waters. It seems for me no matter how many times we subject ourselves to this, there is always improvements to be had in my strokes and technique and I guess that's what paddling in different conditions is all about. Improving, modifying, changing or tweaking all going on in splits of seconds. The water is definitely getting colder now and with the wind evaporating even faster the water on exposed skin, there is a chill. A few rolls at the end of our paddle though reaffirmed any notion we may have had that the water wasn't getting any colder. Keeping the 1-10-1 theory of hypothermia in mind we submerged ourselves and I think Tony might be growing gills at this There has been discussion on our newsgroup about hypothermia, gasp reflex, testing drysuits etc. I guess if you are gonna paddle in the stuff ya might as well get a feel for what it will be like if dunked......for any length of time!
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"Trough Diving"

 Tony and I did lots of this today in St. Philips as what seems to be a continuation of Sunday paddles well into the season. The winds were about 25kn gusting to 30. Headway was a bit limited but possible and we were just messin' around in the cove at anyrate coming out around the point and surfing back end. Getting close to the end of our session the wind waves and swell created to give us some fun rides. Great paddling again with ya buddy!
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"Year Review"

So many pictures, so little space. Just a super paddling year and next year can only be better.
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Thursday, November 27, 2008

"Canadian Coast Guard, St. John's Newfoundland"

Well what respect you have to have for the Coast Guard that monitor our coastlines and assist in rescues. I shot this vessel leaving St. John's harbour. I just completed my VHF course and now am legally able to operate one. During the course however we were taken on a tour of the Coast Guard command and rescue center which is housed above in the building the course was in. We were treated to a Mayday scenario and saw first hand the station implications and how it would unfold to CG personnel. I must say this was a very interesting tour. They are tracking boats wanting access to Canadian waters around the world not to mention local traffic and such. Monitors, radios, satellites communications, real time everything, weather reports, waiting transmissions and much more going on in such a calm organized fashion. A marine information junkie's dream come true. Well worth the course in itself.

I also learned today from another student of the course, about the extreme toxicity of the waters inside and outside the harbour of St. John's. Himself being involved with sampling, etc. He was asking me if I was afraid of the water. I responded that we practise for some conditions and mostly rely on our awareness of skill levels and kayaking experience to guide us and make appropriate decisions. Not what he was talking about. He was asking if i would be afraid to be in the toxic water. There is a bubble inside the harbour of St. John's where untreated waste has been bubbling for years. They have since built a treatment facility that is not in operation quite yet, so the flow continues unabated. Now this may sound ludicrous in this day and age but Victoria in Beautiful British Columbia had a very similar situation years ago which I think they fixed as well but I am not totally sure on that one. Joe, I will call him as I forget his real name, proceeded to tell me about this huge ball of mercury that exists off one of the Coves on the way to Cape Spear and other foul human waste as well which made me think more about what would be the effects of immersion for any length of time in those waters. Awaiting rescue from the coast guard and hypothermia may well be the last thing to worry about. AT any rate he definitely did not make light of the situation but I guess, even though I knew about the harmful harbour bubble, that somehow the dilution factor of the outside ocean would dissipate .........the toxins....none-da! Those are known toxic waters to most but we as a club rarely if ever make reference to the foul conditions that exist in that vicinity and really do we actually know how far that vicinity actually goes and is it a vicinity or a huge friggin' area? As boaters (kayakers 3 feet above the water) are there things we should know? I know there are things I like to know now. Well the hazards to navigation has just increased in this area for me and to think that so many whales and other fish swim out of there and that I was actually going to participate in the food fishery about less than a mile away yet I know people have. WOW!
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Sunday, November 23, 2008


 There was nothing but confused waters on our paddle in ST. Philips today with a bit of swell. Paddling to Topsail Beach we had a moderate head wind with lots of lop and confused waters as the tide was changing. Coming back we were in following seas and made good time. 40 Min's back from Topsail but an hour and fifteen minutes to get there. On the way there however we had beam and quartering seas, such as this one that well almost caught me off gaurd. The neat thing about it though is that you can see reflections os my yellow boat in parts of the wave about to break. Maybe I'm just reading too much into the wave. lol
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"The Lighthouse House"

 A paddle from St. Philips to Topsail with Tony today took us past this interesting house. Not sure if there is a working light there though. Something I am sure the neighbors may not be interested in, having a light bounce off their windows. I am sure however that the lighthouse turret is probably a sun room with a most amazing view of Conception Bay, Newfoundland. Another short paddle for a bit of exercise and in noticeably colder waters. Had to have pogies on all the way and hands were cold tying up the boats once we landed. Thanks for a great paddle Tony and always good to shoot the $%#@ afterwards.
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Saturday, November 22, 2008

"In 1492, He Sailed The...."

 I just bought a compass from Above and Beyond in Cramlington the UK. It is the Silva Adventure 58 Kayak compass. One I hope to use on my new boat when I get it. I have an older Silva that I added a mini cell foam base to to raise it on my deck so I can see it better. It is big and bulky though but easy to see further down the deck of the kayak, which leaves room for me to attach a deck bag and still make my compass visible. I know, I know, so many hate deck bags and cluttered decks. Well I hate cluttered decks but I've always paddled with a deck bag. This post isn't even about deck bags.

It is about exploration I guess. The stein in the picture is a collage of Christopher Columbus and nautical scenes. I bought it years ago but it always serves to remind of the great adventure there is to be had in ones life. One simply has to have a vehicle sometimes to find that adventure and explore it. My vehicle to most adventure but not all is my kayak. I look at the instruments we have today to guide us and still find it amazing how the most basic piece of equipment for navigation on land, sea and air, is still the compass. It is sometimes tough to encourage your mind in severe conditions to trust your compass, especially when there is zero visibility around you, but it always amazes me of the simplicity and accuracy of how it works. If every piece of gear or equipment that we have or use could be so reliable, consistently! Of course proper use and knowledge of a compass and the various kinds and uses must first be obtained but once you do, there is no where you cannot go........knowledgeably.
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Friday, November 21, 2008

"Paddling In The Rain"

 I guess paddling in the rain is not for everyone. After all you may already be sitting in a pool of water in your kayak seat, hopefully from the water you are paddling in ;).

Kayaking is a water sport and I believe I consider that from above and below. Of course the proper gear keeps one dry and comfortable most times, even in torrential down pours. I find it kind of fun actually knowing that all my gear is water tight and secure. My map case is sealed and secure, no water sneaking in to ruin the maps, my head is dry, and so is the rest of my body. Still some just don't like being out in those kind of elements. I find it actually therapeutic and kind of neat watching it pit the water's surface as it falls from the sky. The only issue I guess is if you stop for a break you can feel the coolness of the rain and its wetness being idle. At any rate paddling to me in the rain is as good as singing in the rain I guess and if you can do both then perhaps you really are in the right place in time.
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Thursday, November 20, 2008

"A Boat Color In A "Round-A-Bout" Way"

Wikipedia States:Color or colour[1] is the visual perceptual property corresponding in humans to the categories called red, yellow, blue and others. Color derives from the spectrum of light (distribution of light energy versus wavelength) interacting in the eye with the spectral sensitivities of the light receptors. Color categories and physical specifications of color are also associated with objects, materials, light sources, etc., based on their physical properties such as light absorption, reflection, or emission spectra.
Typically, only features of the composition of light that are detectable by humans (wavelength spectrum from 380 nm to 740 nm, roughly) are included, thereby objectively relating the psychological phenomenon of color to its physical specification. Because perception of color stems from the varying sensitivity of different types of cone cells in the retina to different parts of the spectrum, colors may be defined and quantified by the degree to which they stimulate these cells. These physical or physiological quantifications of color, however, do not fully explain the psychophysical perception of color appearance.
The science of color is sometimes called chromatics. It includes the perception of color by the human eye and brain, the origin of color in materials, color theory in art, and the physics of electromagnetic radiation in the visible range (that is, what we commonly refer to simply as light).

So this was my experiment, to produce a nice cobalt blue color, using electromagnetic radiation in the non-visible range (xrays) to produce light in the visible range of 420 nm, that would be a nice kayak deck color, using x-rays and a crystal from a gamma camera. What is known is that a crystal from a Gamma Camera in Nuclear Medicine is made of sodium iodide with Thallium as an activator. If radiation interacts in the crystal it produces light. Blue light actually in the 420 nm range. Is it a nice blue? Well I wanted to find out. I took a crystal from a gamma camera that wasn't being used any longer and took it over to xray to get some xrays shot at it and then photograph the light given off with my camera. What we did was take the crystal to xray and position it on the xray table and took sequential pictures with my camera ta various Kvp settings on the xray machine. We used 4 Kvp settings represented by 2 of the pictures above. The xray room was made totally dark. I stood above the crystal as the xrays were fired at the Sodium Iodide crystal (from Nuc Med) and timed the shot using my Olympus Digital camera based on the techs signal to start. Once the xrays hit the sodium iodide crystal they would absorb the xray energy and convert that energy to light energy in the 420 nm range which shows up to the human eye in the visible spectrum as cobalt blue light which I recorded with my digital camera and which images are represented above and voila a nice "cobalt blue" color for the deck of a kayak. I know I like the color.

Monday, November 17, 2008

"Ocean Paddler"

 Malcolm is definitely one of NL's frequent ocean paddlers, in all conditions. A fairly benign day for him no doubt. He also loves the Greenland paddle and he makes it seem that it was made for the Nordkapp where of course some of the Nordkapp's ancestry must lie.
This was a shot from our paddle in South Brigus on Saturday.
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Saturday, November 15, 2008

"Nordkapp Day"

 A beautiful boat, a beautiful day.
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"Making Way"

 Malcolm getting up to speed today as we embark on a sweet paddle in Brigus South, Newfoundland. A couple of Nordkapps and A Locksha 4 and we were off. No rain today but it was threatening. The water is still amazingly not too bad temp wise, about 6 degrees or so.
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