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Monday, December 3, 2018

Holiday Sales on all Books.

Getting ready for the holiday season? With that in mind I decided to run a sale for the month of December on all the books I have written. 

At the iBook store, Enlightened Kayaking is now $3.99 (originally $5.99) and GO! Planning weekend trips to month long adventures is $7.99 (originally $10.99) Finally, Forward, the short book that just focuses on the forward kayak stroke is Free. All of these books are digital only and can be read on the iPad, iPhone or your Mac. 

At Amazon, GO! is also $7.99 and the Paperback version is $12.99 (originally $15.99). 

This sale is going to run through the month of December. January first they will go back to full price. On either platform you can send these books as a gift in either digital form or paperback. 

I like the thought of giving the gift of experiences for Christmas, and these books can help give people the skills to create their own experiences. 

If you have already purchased one of my books, thanks for supporting an independent author, and if you enjoyed it, please give the book a review wherever you bought it. If you didn't enjoy it, please send me some feedback. The joy of being independent and publishing digitally, is that I can make changes. 

Saturday, December 1, 2018

The Adventure Otaku Stocking Stuffer Guide 2018

Part two of the Adventure Otaku Christmas is the stocking stuffer list. Once again, these are all Items I use. They make my outdoor life better, safer and more fun. Here is hoping they will have the same effect on your loved ones. 

Snow Peak Gigapower Torch $57.95 - I bought this after years of wanting it. It takes a lot for me to buy something I don’t really need, but this thing gets used all the time. I use it to start campfires mostly, which it does quickly and easily, but I have also used it to melt cheese over a bowl of soup. Talk about versatile, and it uses the same fuel I am already carrying for my stove. A little pricey for what it is, but it is beautifully made. 

Big Agnes Ultra Pump Sack -  $34.95 Blowing up an air pad isn’t too bad, but this is just so much better. Essentially a large dry bag with a connector on the bottom that mates to Big Agnes sleeping pads, depending on which pad you are using it will take about two full pump sacks to fill your pad. When not being used as a pump it is a waterproof bag for clothes our whatever you need to carry and keep dry. 

The UV and insect Shield buff - $20ish. The first thing I pack when I am teaching. Whether it is summer or winter. Versatile, lightweight, and inexpensive. It is the perfect accessory. In the summer it is sun and bug protection. In the winter it is warmth. Can’t beat it. 

Sawyer Permethrin - $14-$20  Because I teach in the outdoors, I try to not use too many chemicals on my skin. That is why I usually use permethrin on my clothing instead of bug spray on my skin (or sunscreen for that matter!) Spray your clothes, let it dry and it keeps bugs at bay for 6 weeks or 6 washings. I was skeptical at first, but once you realize others in your group are shooing mosquitoes while you are sitting comfortably you will realize how well it works too.

MSR Mug Mate Coffee and Tea Filter - $16.95 Super simple, super easy, super light way to make great coffee.

Fox 40 Whistle - $6.00 Everyone should have a fox 40 whistle. Ridiculously loud, inexpensive, and the ultimate piece of safety gear. People don't like buying safety gear, so buy it for them. 

Warm Socks - $14 to $40 Whether your choice is smart wool, Darn tough, or farm to feet, a high quality pair of wool socks cannot be beat. Nothing makes for a better stocking stuffer than awesome, warm, cozy, socks. Whether you are wearing them around the house, or inside a sleeping bag after a long day of paddling. Everyone loves warm socks. 

These last three items combine to make a great gift, you could even add the Jetboil Mighty Mo from the previous list, and make it a super Christmas for someone. 


Hot Chocolate Mix -. $14.00 A great thing to have in the backcountry on a cold day. Here is a great recipe you can make yourself, and prepackage as a gift for someone. If You want to buy it pre-made I have tried tons of brands and my favorite is Godiva Dark chocolate hot cocoa. Paired with the Jetboil Mighty Mo, and a vessel for heating water and this is the ultimate cold weather kit for a hot drink. 

Hydro Flask Vacuum Insulated Coffee Cup $24.95 - keeps coffee hot or cold for a long time, and most importantly seals tight when not in use. Love it, and it fits in a cup holder. And yes, it replaced my Yeti. This is better. 

The GSI Halulite Kettle - $24.95 And here is your vessel for heating water. It packs small enough to carry on a day hike, but big enough to carry a Stove and a canister of fuel. 

Here is your bonus gift. Available via the link on the right side of this list is GO! which is available to give as a gift on either amazon for kindle, or paperback. Or on the iBookstore for iPad and Mac. On sale for $7.99 from December first through New Years Eve. Get your friends or family members the gift of the written word, and the skills to plan their own adventures. 

Happy Holidays Everyone. 


Wednesday, November 28, 2018

The Missing Glaciers of Prince William Sound

A few years ago we took a voyage to Alaska with a lot of gear and a great team. Our goal was to photograph the glaciers in Alaska's, Prince William Sound. What we saw was both amazing and confusing.

Here is the first video installment from that trip.




More to come, subscribe to the Youtube Channel to see more.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

The Adventure Otaku Gift Guide 2018 - 5th Edition

It's that time of year again, The music is playing, the fire is cozy, and it is time to buy some gifts for the adventurer in your life.

A few changes this year. With the switch to Adventure Otaku (from Paddling Otaku) I can now talk about gift ideas for people besides paddlers! Doesn't everyone know an Adventurer? Also, this years list will include Amazon Affiliate links. Maybe you could help me make a few pennies, but still no ads. So that's a positive right?

With just a few exceptions these are all items I have used and truly love. Whether you are just starting out in the outdoors or are a seasoned professional, there are things here for everyone. This year the list ranges from $24 dollars to $1000, depending on your budget, But fully half of them are under $200.

So put on some Christmas music, get some cocoa, and check out this years list!

Lodge Cast Iron Skillet  ($24.95) - Obviously you aren’t taking this backpacking, but for car camping or vanlifing there is nothing better. Easy to maintain, and naturally non-stick, these pans are versatile, durable and with a little care will literally last for generations.

Black Diamond Spot ($39.95)- This headlamp is on the list most years, and with good reason. In the brightness vs dollars category, this is the hands down winner, a great headlamp particularly at the price, and every year they make it just a little better. No affiliate link for this one, if you order it, make sure you are getting the 325 lumen version. Amazon only seems to carry last years model at 300 lumens. 

Patagonia R0 Sun Long Sleeve Shirt ($49.00) - This year I replaced the shirt I paddle in. I took 14 shirts to the fitting room,  to find the one that fit my needs. It had to be comfortable, wick efficiently and offer UPF 50 protection with long sleeves. The Patagonia came out the winner. As I was trying them on I was hoping some underdog like NRS would offer the best shirt, and a lot of shirts offered the features I needed, but none fit like the Patagonia. 

Jetboil Mighty Mo ($49.95) - The most underrated backpacking stove out there. Slightly bigger than the revered Pocket Rocket it adds a push button igniter and a pressure regulator for better performance in cold weather and altitude. Well worth the $5 more than the MSR. 

Snow Peak Pack and Carry Fire Place ($89.25 for the small) - I bought this mainly because it would look cool in photographs, but it is amazing. I use it most often when I am teaching on a cold day so students can warm up, even though it is fairly small it is great for physical warmth and psychological warmth. I set it up at a party a while back and it immediately became the focal point. Best of all it folds flat. I have the smallest, it is only about a foot across, they get much bigger. 



Patagonia Nano Puff  ($199) - My go to winter insulation piece. Because I often adventure in wet weather I try and stay away from down. This packs small and keeps me warm. What else do you need. 

ACR Personal Locator Beacon ($289.95) -  I don’t want the level of communication that most people want in the backcountry. I want a rugged reliable device that has one feature. When the pooh hits the fan, and my life is in jeopardy, get me the hell out of here. This is that device. Built to a much higher level of durability than a spot or Inreach, it has one button, one use, and no service fee. 

Goal zero Sherpa 100 ac ($299.95) - I used the Sherpa 50 for the last Alaska expedition - actually two of them - and they were awesome. This updated version with a lithium ion battery is a fraction of the weight with a lot more power. It has more power than the Yeti 400 I use in my van. This will power just about anything, from your GoPro to a laptop. 

GoPro Hero black 7 ($400) - Mark my words, this camera will be looked back on as the camera that saved GoPro. For two reasons. First is the image stabilization. Nearly gimbal good. Second, is the TimeWarp - I really prefer to call it hyper lapse, which is what it is - which combines a traditional time lapse with the above mentioned image stability. Both are amazing. Additionally, an unsung feature is the new user interface which is so much better than the last version. 

iPad Pro ($799) - I am writing this post in a tiny house on my iPad Pro. I do everything but final book layout on my iPad Pro and I absolutely love it. It has replaced laptops for me, easily. I use it extensively planning classes as well as for media consumption. It is smaller, lighter and frankly better than any piece of portable computing gear I have used. I absolutely love it. To have access to satellite imagery, detailed weather and communication anywhere is impressive, If only it were waterproof. 

Mustang Survival EP 6.5 Ocean Racing Jacket ($999) - Okay, as I am just delving into sailing, I have no need of this product. Yet. But this is the coolest looking jacket I have ever seen. Mustang survival makes some great gear. This looks like it belongs in a sci-fi movie. *This is the only product on this list I haven’t used. 

So that is this years list. Let me know what you think. In about a week there will be a second list of Stocking stuffer ideas, with nothing over $50. I hope you had a great Thanksgiving and maybe it is evens snowing where you live. Happy Holidays!




Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Outdoor Misconceptions

As the woman walked away from me she said, "the gloves have to be waterproof, because it feels like it's never going to stop raining!" This is just one of the misconceptions that I hear regularly. Some of them are specific, like this one. But some are generalizations that are just plain wrong. But whether they are things that are purported to be facts, or vast generalizations based on nothing substantial I - and I am sure many of my colleagues - hear them all the time.

Here are some of the most common things I hear, that are just plain wrong.

For some reason, in the area of water treatment there are a lot of misconceptions. The first is people looking for water treatment, saying "I need a water purifier." No. You don't. Yes you need to treat your water to make it potable, but you don't need a water purifier. When water is "purified" it has been treated to the viral level for contaminants. Most people active in the backcountry don't need this level of treatment - unless you are going to a country where they don't do a good job of segregating waste water from drinking water, or an area of severe flooding.

"I'll Just use Iodine" is another good one. If you are using iodine as a water treatment you are wasting your time. Iodine is effective at treating Giardia, but not cryptosporidium, and there are too many factors to consider - water temperature, turbidity, and PH - to make iodine treatment of viruses useful to us in the backcountry.

If you have questions about treating water, check out this post from a couple of years ago. The only thing missing from it is mention of the MSR Guardian water filter which is a bit heavy, and very expensive but an outstanding filter if you need viral protection.

Another area that has a lot of misconception is anything to do with Bears, here is my favorite, "Grizzly bears are the largest and most dangerous bears out there." This is just plain wrong. Grizzlies are neither the largest, or the most dangerous which I will clarify by saying they are not the most aggressive towards humans. The winner of both of these awards goes to the Polar Bear. Which is to say that Polar bears are both taller, and heavier than Grizzlies (which actually come in third in the size category) Polar bears also subsist mostly on meat, and are far more predatory than Grizzly bears. Grizzlies evolved on the plains, where they had an option of fight or flight, but Coastal Brown bears - which includes Kodiak bears, as well as many other subspecies of brown bear - evolved on the coast, where the ate diets rich with protein - salmon - which helped them grow bigger, and they didn't have anywhere to run in a fight, so they evolved far less likely to flee an altercation. Most scientists agree that Polar Bears are both the most aggressive and the largest bear on earth - though you are less  likely to run into them unless you are in the Arctic. But Kodiak bears are sometimes found to be bigger, this may be a statistical anomaly, but there are cases.

"Bear Spray isn't proven effective." Also just plain wrong. Bear spray has been tested over and over again, and is proven effective against all types of bear, including a handful of cases with polar bears. I have discharged bear spray a couple of times, but always in training. It sprays a cone of mist around 25 feet, and is potent. A friend of mine had an accidental discharge on his back - it is designed for use on mucus membranes remember! - and he said it felt like an iron was pressed against his skin. Now imagine that in your eyes or nose. Now imagine the effect on a bears nose, a nose that can smell bacon from two miles away.

"A gun is far better for defense against a bear, than pepper spray." Okay, imagine this scenario. You are standing 25 feet from a large brick wall, holding a basketball. You throw the basketball at the wall. As soon as you release the ball you draw your gun, and aim and shoot the ball before it gets back to you. If you can do this, then by all means, use your gun. If you can't shoot a charging bear in the head and guarantee a brain shot, then stick to bear spray. It is really that simple.

Okay, enough about bears. Go read Bear Attacks their causes and avoidance. It is the book Outdoor professionals read. 

"Kayaking is a great upper body workout." Only if you are doing it wrong, or are doing it at the Olympic level, take a kayaking class and learn all that you have been doing wrong.

"I need waterproof gloves." You probably don't, and waterproof gloves are expensive and horrible. If your hands are going into liquid water you need water proof gloves, but even I - a lover of cold water paddling - don't use waterproof gloves because they stink. TO make a glove actually waterproof, all the seams - and look at  pair of sewn gloves, and see how many seams there are on the fingers! - have to be sealed with tape or welded. This is time consuming and expensive. If the glove is also truly waterproof chances are it won't breath well, which means your hands will end up cold and wet (from sweat) anyway. Water resistant gloves are just fine for most people. I love and highly recommend power stretch gloves, they are made by a number of different companies.

"It's going to be cold so I need a four season tent!" Your tents job isn't to keep you warm. Your tent is like a shell Jacket. It protects you from wind, rain and snow. Keeping you warm is the job of your sleeping bag, and sleeping pad. A four season tent is designed for high winds and a heavy snowload. I own a four season tent for kayaking in Alaska, because of how much wind you can get on the coast. We should really stop calling them four season tents, because it leads people to think if you are camping in winter you need one. My three season, three person tent weighs just under four pounds. My four season, three person tent weighs 11. Do you really want that in your backpack? No.

Before you start spreading misinformation like any of the things listed above, think about the source. If there are any things you hear frequently that are just plain wrong, let me know in the comments.


Monday, October 29, 2018

Paper vs. Plastic.

The dilemma of our time. We are standing in line at the market, with our fresh organic produce. And we need to decide paper or plastic. About a decade ago I did some research. Here is what I found.

I found that they were about the same. That while plastic is made from oil, it biodegrades pretty quickly, and that paper, while killing trees to make them, the trees are harvested specifically for that purpose -- it's not like they are cutting down virgin forests for them - and the too are designed to biodegrade pretty quickly.

Proof that you can find data to support anything you want, I just found out that all of this is wrong. This started for me in a small privately owned market down the street. This place was transformed a few years ago, it was a dingy 1950's supermarket that had grey meat and dusty canned goods. It still looks like it could use a new floors and fixtures, but they got smart. They lined an entire wall with open front refrigerators and filled them with craft beer. It is now the go to place for the local students. My town has a large university and five colleges. The bulk of our residents are students, faculty and administrators. They now do very well and have a good selection of produce, and a handful of other things. It is a great place when you realize you are out of dog food on a Sunday night at 8:00, and really just want to run in and run out. So I heard the young woman at the register - tattoos, face piercings, blue hair, talking with a customer buying a six of craft beer that she thought it was about the same, paper or plastic. I decided to go home and check my research. I was wrong. way wrong.

Yes, the paper for bags is from carefully controlled and harvested trees. They are left un-dyed so when they biodegrade they don't pollute. But here is the problem. First, they take up a lot of space in the landfills. Second, they take thousands of years to biodegrade, because they are packed so tightly into a landfill, they don't get any oxygen. Which is needed for them to break down. It also takes a lot of water, and power to make them, so they are impacting the environment that way. Though it should be stated that more people recycle their paper bags than plastic. which usually ends up in the garbage.

On the other hand, plastic bags were designed in the 1970's to replace the environmental impact of paper bags. They take very little power, and no water to produce. They are made out of ethane which is a by product of natural gas production. It is usually just burned off, but they figured out a way to make bags out of it. Plastic bags weigh nothing, and they are made to biodegrade very quickly, even in a landfill. They really are brilliant engineering.

So if you have those two choices, plastic is by far the winner.

But you don't have just those two choices do you? No, you have a third. Frankly, I think if you want a bag at a store you should have to pay for it. This would be the single biggest thing we could do to minimize their use. Well, maybe the second biggest thing, we could make them illegal like California.

No, what you should be doing is keeping a reusable bag or two in your car. Let's just eliminate the problem completely. I bought a couple of bags, for each of our cars. They cost me about $5 a piece. Sometimes I forget to grab them, but I have drastically reduced the amount of plastic I use. You can do this too. Give it a shot.

Hey! Do me a favor.

If you are one of the many people who have bought my book GO! on either Amazon or iBooks. Please take a moment to review it. It is the single biggest thing you can do to support a self published author. Even more than buying my book. It takes just a few minutes, and you would be doing something nice for another person. It would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Got a lot of Gear?

I have a lot of gear. There is no denying it. Even though I work hard to have a minimalist lifestyle, I teach a lot of topics and all of them have associated gear. I do try and minimize how much I have, but facts are facts. I have a lot of gear. It has always been something I struggled with as a minimalist, here is how I handle it and how I organize my gear which is something a lot of people active in the outdoors struggle with. 

I teach kayaking, and have for a long time. I have what I need for teaching and expeditioning, and that equals a large duffel bag, two kayaks and two paddles. 

I teach sup as well, and a lot of my kayak gear crosses over. I use the same PFD for both instead of a more sup designed life vest. A lot of sup instructors use inflatable PFD’s and I choose not to. But I have two boards, two leashes and two paddles. 

I teach navigation, and have a plastic lidded bin that houses all the things I need for those classes. Maps, compasses, and accessories. I would probably thin out my map selection if I wasn’t teaching this, but it is good for me to have a lot of resources for my classes. For the same reason I have three different compasses, to show variations on a compass theme. I also keep things in the bin that I consider as falling into the realm of ‘signal’. This is strobe lights, chemical light sticks, personal locator beacon and such. I also keep headlamps in there. 

Another bin I keep is ‘med’, which includes first aid supplies that I am always using and resupplying my many first aid kits. I have a separate canvas bag that goes on WFA courses with me. But if it doesn’t fit in that bag it doesn’t go on a course. This includes teaching materials as well props, prizes for students, note books for me, and reference materials for when I need to look something up. 



I have two more bins that get a lot of use. ‘Stoves’ and ‘H20’. The first is self explanatory, everything stove related is in this bin. Both canister and liquid fuel. I own 6 stoves. This is a little excessive and Ill be selling one of them soon. I don’t generally accept free gear, but two of the stoves I got for free, specifically so I could use them when I teach. The third is a backup solely for expedition use. H20 Is everything water filter related. I own four water filters and again, two of them were free for teaching. 

The beauty of this system is when I am going to teach a class I just grab the appropriate bin, and whatever expendables I need. I never waste time digging for gear. Some things stay in my truck for months at a time. The entire summer all my sup gear and kayak gear is in the truck. I use it all most weekends. All I do is replace expendables and ‘surprise and delight’ - leave a comment if you don’t know what that is! - and maybe wash something or change something out. 

When I speak of expendables I mean things that get used up and have to be replaced before the next class. In my map and compass class everyone gets a printed map of where we are working so they can learn on a very specific map. They get to take notes on it, and do things like plotting a bearing. It also refers to stove fuel - I use a lot of stove fuel in the course of a year - as well as things I give away like water additives and power food. 

As fall approaches and I transition to land based classes I keep a backpack loaded with the gear I always carry. Rain layers, extra warmth layers for students - they frequently under dress -  a hydration reservoir and other things I have to bring along. This keeps it easy to grab my gear and go. 

What about my big stuff? Well, in my office I have what we refer to as the gear monolith. A large divided structure for storing gear. I has a small cubby for anything that needs to be charged and storage for batteries. There is a power strip in the cubby, and all my chargers are ready to go. Just plug it in and let it charge. When I need it, it will be ready to go. Another, larger cubby has all my tents and sleeping pads. Self inflating pads are stored unrolled with the valves open so that they are inflated all the time. The more a self inflating pad is inflated the faster it will inflate when you use it. Tents and other pads are stored in their bags in this cubby. 

There is a large bin that contains a lot of my camp kitchen gear, and some specific food related gear that I only use when I teach cooking classes. There is a large central cubby that holds my large paddling duffel in the off season. Dry bags are stored in a large dry bag, as is my dry suit. 




For most people I say store your sleeping bags in large bags so they can be loose, but my sleeping bags are sort of always in use. Several are in my sprinter which is my rolling office a lot of the time. Another is always on my bed. But if you are a normal person store them in the big cotton or mesh storage bags. 

I have another large bin that is just water bottles and water reservoirs that aren’t in use.

I was never a particularly organized person, but forcing myself to get organized has made a huge difference. I refuse to spend time looking for gear, and to combat that I spend a little time organizing my gear. 

I never store gear in an environment that isn’t temperature and humidity controlled. No attics, basements or crawl spaces. Never. 

The final part of my office organization is the three large dry erase boards on the walls. I use them for organization of projects I am working on, as well as things I need to do, both for teaching or other projects. These help keep me on track. 


The important thing is to find systems that help keep you organized, so you can spend more time playing in the outdoors. 

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Next steps - sailing

The last chapter of my book is called Next Steps.

It is a common phrase in the outdoor education world, and we use it to talk about what students should do next to advance their knowledge in a certain area. With the long term goal to be proficiency in an outdoor skill.

I am usually the person giving people their next steps, but today I am thinking about my next steps, in particular when it comes to sailing. Despite growing up on my fathers power boat, and spending most of my adult life working on the water in kayaks and for the last five years, stand up paddle boards, I am a complete novice when it comes to sailing.

I have already done a fair amount of reading, but I need to get out there, and spend time in boats. The amazing thing that has been occurring since my last post about sailing is the number of people who have offered up their time, experience and excitement to help me.

My friend Lisa - who I consider my SUP mentor - divulged that she got her start on the water as a sailor, I would very much like to sail with her, she is a great educator, and an amazing person.

My employer just hired a young woman who is a competitive sailor and US Sailing Instructor, I have already hit her up for some information, and hope to convince her to take me out on the water.

Beth, who you may know from the training chapter in my book as well as taking part in the AGAP trip, just brought a Laser sailboat back from he mountains, it needs some work but I am excited to help her get it on the water.

Finally, I hear through the grapevine that another friend, Ron, who moved away but is now coming back, learned to sail while he was gone.

These are all great opportunities and will make for fun experiences, and will be a boon to learning how to do this.

Part of this is my network of friends, most are interested in the outdoors, and jump at the chance to help people learn a new skill. The joy that I get out of this is new skills. Something I love.

On my last check in with my boss on the outdoor education side of things, he asked why I continue to teach. I told him a big part of it was selfishness. I love learning new things in the outdoors, and no matter how many times I have taught something, I always learn something new from new students. That is what I get out of it. This is a whole new world that I get to play in, and bring my experience from many other venues to play in this arena. Super exciting.

So, hey, follow along on this journey. I plan on doing more video through this process, and want to share it with you. Subscribe to the Adventure Otaku youtube channel, content is coming. In the meantime, Instagram is the pest place to follow this next adventure.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Hurricane Michael

About a month ago, central North Carolina went a little crazy preparing for Hurricane Florence. While Florence did severe damage tot he coast, it never really found its way to where I live in central North Carolina.

But this week we got hit - with little warning! - by Hurricane Michael. We got hit on Thursday around 11 am. We lost our power around 2:30pm. The storm was gone by 6:00pm, but the damage still remains. We got our power back on Saturday night around 9pm, which was surprising. We expected it to take longer. We were just getting into the grove of the silence. The AC and Fan kicking on and off. The sound of our ceiling fan when we are trying to go to sleep. And the never ending sound of our commercial refrigerator - you don't realize how loud a commercial refrigerator is until you put one in your kitchen. Comment below if you want to know why we went that route.

While it was inconvenient to not have power, it also wasn't that bad. We got lucky, as we are surrounded by large trees, and many fell, but nothing hit our house. I posted video of the storm at its worst on instagram.

Two things struck me during this exercise of no electricity.

First, as I mentioned, the silence. People have a hard time with silence. It is the reason your friend calls you when they are driving home from work. A lot of people have a hard time embracing the quiet, because when it is quiet, when there are no distractions, you hear the voice in your head. As a culture, we are bad at quieting that voice in our head and it makes people very uncomfortable. Part of why I like long kayak trips is there is plenty of time to quiet that voice in your head. It takes practice, and you can call it meditation, or deep breathing exercises or whatever you want. But it is a good skill to have, the ability to keep your wits when all is quiet. We have so many distractions to day that keep us from practicing that skill, and it really does scare people. Try this, go to have lunch with a friend, and put your phone on the table, face down. Don't look at it or pick it up during the meal. Just connect with the person across from you. You may find this difficult, but give it a shot, and invite the person opposite you to do the same.

I am really enjoying the new screen time app that is included with iOS 12. It gives me the ability to see where I am spending my time on my phone or my tablet. It is sort of a device separation detector. As I look at screen time now, I can see on Friday my usage ballooned, because I couldn't use my iPad or desktop. But when I look at the app on my iPad it was way down. I average about 45 minutes a day on my phone - which sounds like a lot, but I think it probably isn't. But on Friday it was right at around 2 hours.

Okay, the second thing that struck me was the storm itself. On Monday I looked at the weather radar and the Michael was a tropical storm and a poorly organized one at that. Meaning it didn't have a very pronounced circular motion. It just looked like a large storm, and I didn't think it would be that bad. On Tuesday I wasn't too surprised to see it was a Category 1 hurricane, but when it made land fall the next day it was a powerful category 4 hurricane. So how did a poorly formed tropical storm become a powerful cat 4 in two days? How did it do this in a location where storms rarely form, the Gulf of Mexico (most hurricanes form off the coast of Africa, and take their time moving slowly across the Atlantic picking up strength.) It is also surprising that the storm did this in October, the end of the hurricane season?

Well, the answer to all these questions is abnormally warm water. Warm water is what feeds hurricanes. The warmer the water, the more evaporation there is, the more moisture they carry. And while the wind from a hurricane is bad, it is the water that does the damage. As bad as the damage was it would have been far worse if it hadn't been going so fast. If this storm had lingered the way Florence did, thousands would be dead. They are actually thinking of changing the saffir-simpson hurricane scale, to reflect water content as well as wind. Because wind levels only tell part of the story. Honestly, we dodged a bullet with Michael. It could have been much worse.

But, abnormally warm water? Why? Simple. Take a guess? Climate change. The only way for a storm to form that fast, in October is the abnormally warm water from the changes to our climate.
Hurricane Michael, was the exclamation point added to last weeks IPCC report. Unless we take dramatic action to curtail greenhouses gases in the next 12 years, by 2040, storms like Michael will seem small. Ask someone who lives on the coast of Florida what they think of storms like Michael being small.

Climate change isn't a hoax, or a Chinese scam, or a ploy by money hungry scientists. It is a dire warning that this planet is done with us. If we don't make dramatic changes now, life as you know it will be very different in 20 years. Cities will be underwater, food shortages will be common - because  it will be harder to grow crops. (oh, and Michael killed millions of pigs, and hundreds of millions of chickens. it is starting already) Both of which will lead to devastating wars.

So when you put your phone down over breakfast, talk to your friend about climate change and what they are going to do about it. Because it is going to come down to all of us doing something. We can all do a little today, or a lot tomorrow. It is your call.