Sunday, January 28, 2007

Got that monkey off our backs

Last year for my birthday, my girlfriend and I decided to paddle around Alameda Island. We thought it was 12 miles or so, but turned out to be 16 miles. Some winds and waves added to the challenge. We completed the trip, but we felt like it beat us. I think I heard my girlfriend say something about never again...

Brian and Janet, who we paddle with a decent amount, also had attempted it at some point in the past, and their trip ended up worse than ours (something about Brian running, while wearing his wetsuit, through a tunnel back to their car)...

So we had monkeys on our back. We were more experienced paddlers now, so decided this weekend to get them off. So we planned a trip around Alameda, and did some preparations this time (checking tides, checking currents, considering where to start from, etc.).

Based on tides, it looked like a start from the Airport Channel on the San Leandro Bay (marked as 1 on the map above) and going up the Tidal Channel (2 on the map) would be best. The current would pull us along at between .5 and 1.5 mph (which is a lot, considering we normally average 3 to 4 mph in the boats). If we took as long as we expected, we would get back to the south end after the tide had turned and the current would pull us back to the start.

So, right at 10 am we hit the water. And the currents definitely pulled us through the channel - looking at the GPS track, we had a stretch of over a mile where we averaged more than 5 mph. After about two hours, we rounded the northern end of the island and started back towards the start.

After passing the aircraft carrier museum, we stopped for lunch at the beach near Encinal Launch Ramp (3 on the map), the continued on. All continued well and our timing was working out such that it looked like we would hit the southern a the right time for the tide to suck us in and back to the cars.

But, after we passed the beach and started in to the channel in to San Leandro Bay, we found that the current was coming out. Brian and I mused about what could cause this (like whether our tide charts were wrong). But we continued on and fought the currents. Definitely slowed us down, as our average speed was about 2.5 mph.

After we passed the bridge and started in the final stretch to the car did we realize what had happened - we had a wrong assumption. We assumed that on an incoming tide, the water would go under the bridge towards San Leandro Bay (the direction shown on the arrow next to 4 on the map). But it turns out that the currents comes down the Tidal Channel and goes out at this bridge on an incoming tide. This doesn't seem logical when you look at a map, but this was what we found.

Overall, a good paddle. Stats are 17.44 miles, average speed of 3.4 mph, 5 hours 7 minutes moving time, and 6 hours 2 minutes total time.

And now the monkey is off our backs!

Brian's trip report is on his site


Saturday, January 27, 2007


There was an article in the San Francisco Chronicle that talked about how parking meters in San Francisco were not collecting as much money as expected, and a conclusion was that there are too many people with handicap placards (who are allowed to park for free at meters). Something like 90,000 people in San Francisco with handicap placards, but only 23,000 parking meters.

So, how does one get a handicap placard? From the California DMV site, it says that a person with one of the following can get a handicap placard:
1) Heart or circulatory disease.
2) Lung disease.
3) A diagnosed disease or disorder that significantly limits the use of lower extremities.
4) Specific, documented visual problems, including low-vision or partial-sightedness.
5) The loss, or loss of the use, of one or both lower extremities or both hands.

Two of these surprise me. Heart disease has become very common, and one of the causes is a lack of exercise. So allowing them the privilege of parking right in front of their destination sounds counter-productive. Shouldn't we make them walk so they can improve their condition?

And people who have vision problems - should they even be driving?

It would be interesting to see statistics of what percentage of parking placards are given out for what cause.


Friday, January 26, 2007

Photos from 2006 Chemelex Alumni get together

About a dozen people came out to City Pub last night to catch up at the annual Chemelex alumni gathering. Good fun was had by all.

Click on the photos to see large size.

Photos from 2005 event can be seen here.

If there are any Chemelex alumni who find there way here, but are not on the Yahoo email list for Chemelex alumni (which is the primary way of announcing this event), please go to this web site or drop me an email (pdonohue AT singlespeed DOT org) to sign up.

For those that aren't from Chemelex - these are photos from the annual gathering of people who used to work at the Chemelex division of Raychem Corporation (which I did for some 9 years).

Thursday, January 18, 2007

water ski behind a row boat?

Ok, I saw this video online, and had to talk about it. Partly because it is interesting, but also because the video took place in Redwood City, where I often kayak at. This is the same location I talked about in my last post, where I went out to the South Bay Wreck. It is a clip from the Myth Busters television show.
アメリカにはMyth Bustersというテレビ番組がある。その番組は神話が本当か嘘か決心する。Youtubeでビデオを見た。面白かったと思う。漕艇で水上スキーできる神話の事だ。でも私はその所でよくカヤックする。


Monday, January 15, 2007

A good kayak link

We often paddle kayaks with Brian and Janet. Brian has been writing about his various kayak trips in a web site, and has recently updated them. His new web site lists many of the places which you can launch from in the SF Bay.

Here is one location that he writes about, and one I have been to a few times also - the South Bay Wreck. This involves paddling out to visit the wreck of the USS Thompson, a destroyer that served between World Wars I and II, but now sits half destroyed in the middle of the bay.

He also has a page that talks about various trips he/they/we have taken at With his web site updates, I suspect there is a chance that this site may go away or get a changed address.


Friday, January 12, 2007

Laundry care labels

Laundry care labels have changed, and now I don't understand them.

The photo is from a blanket that I was given for Christmas. I understand the leftmost label, which says wash at 30 degrees C (which I guess is warm water). And the third from the left says it can be ironed. But the three other ones don't make any sense to me.
あの写真はクリスマスに私にあげたブランケットだ。 左から一番目のロゴは30℃で選択する。ひだらから3番目のロゴはアイロンがけをしてもいい。でも他のロゴを分からない。


Wednesday, January 03, 2007

2007 Predictions (English only)

Here is what I think will happen in 2007 (and beyond):

I suspect that I will kayak more, and find time to ride my bike more. I already have a few plans for vacations coming together, including Mexico for kayaking in March and camping at Lake Tahoe in July. No plans to go to Japan right now, but I would like to go back soon.

My consulting work seems to be getting a little more busy, which will somewhat limit my time for trips, but I should still be able to arrange it so that I get to play. The bike shop I am involved with is looking better and better every month, so it is looking like it will be a long-term successful business.

US Economy:
I don't think that what the US Government has been doing (cutting taxes, running deficits, etc.) has helped our economy, and the economy is currently showing strains. I think that we are heading towards a worsening economy for a while. Could be very ugly if there is a housing bubble, and it pops.

World Economy:
I have long thought that China's half-controlled economy was at risk, and still do. Having a government calling shots works, so long as they call the right shots. But I think they will slip up at some point, with an impact on the whole world. Probably not next year or even the year after, but I think in the next 5 years.

I suspect Bush will basically ignore the recommendations that the Iraq Policy Group came up with, and even into 2008 we will still have over 100k soldiers in Iraq and the situation continuing to look more and more bleak as time goes on. I don't see any way for us to"win", so I think Iraq will become more of a civil war.

US Politics:
Now that Democrats are taking control, there should be a little more balance and the worst of the new laws will be stopped. But even though Bush is calling for both sides working together, I don't believe he will be willing to, so I suspect that after a few months of a few new laws going through (higher minimum wage, etc.), the two sides will split and go back to fighting instead of moving the country forward.

If this comes true (worsening economy and still in Iraq), I suspect that Bush will continue on as he has, and will likely do more to help the Democrats in the next election than they can do for themselves.

Well, not a very positive outlook. Hopefully I will be proven wrong in some areas.

What do you think? Any predictions? Any agreement or disagreement with what I said?