Monday, December 24, 2012

Happy Holidays....

....and season's greetings to the paddle community at large. I have a had a wonderful few years writing this blog, and I am thankful for all the readers - and commenters - that I have. I have many things planned for 2013, leading to another big trip in 2014. I also have another book in the works, so stick around, there should be good times to come.

I hope you have had as wonderful a year as I have, and I hope the next one is even better! See you on the water.


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

From the craftsman series.

I am a transplanted New Yorker. I moved to the american south for my wife's job. People ask me if I miss living in New York, and I tell them the only thing I miss is the food. I mean no disrespect to other parts of the country, but if you want really good bread you have to get it in lower Manhattan. Bagels, pizza, corned beef, all things I seek out when I go to New york.

The south offers its own food specialties, Biscuits, fried chicken, sweet tea, Bar-b-cue (Ironically, years before moving here I came here to eat BBQ with a couple of friends - one of whom is a chef - we did a circle of North and South Carolina for BBQ, amazing) are among the things that the south does well.

Something that I thought I knew, but didn't know, until I came to North Carolina are doughnuts. In New York we had Dunkin Donuts. Which in retrospect isn't really a donut. I have come to learn that a real, good southern doughnut can be amazing.

Here is yet another beautifully crafted doughnut - not made in the south - and a beautifully crafted short film.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Got HERO Trouble?

The two posts I have done this month about my new HERO 3 Black have generated a lot of hits, and a number of them are coming from search terms indicating that the searcher is having a problem. On there is a GoPro 'subreddit' that has a HERO 3 issue FAQ that is very helpful.

Here is a direct link.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Hero 3 Black - The app!

The Hero 3 has built in wifi, since I skipped the hero two I didn't have the ability to use an app with it, today I was very excited to get the update for the firmware for my Hero 3 and download the app onto my iPad.

To install the firmware update is simple. Go to GoPro's website and follow the instructions with easy info graphic. It is really very simple with step by step instructions.

On the next screen you register your camera, and then on the following screen you name and password protect your camera. This is optional. I suppose the concern is someone can take control of your camera, the only reason I did it was that I wanted to see the entire process. You download the firm ware, which gets installed on the camera, and then disconnect the camera and shut it down, power it up and then it installs. This takes a few minutes. While it was installing - the camera turns itself on and off a bunch of times - I was installing the free app on my iPad.

My one complaint with the camera is that my aging eyes occasionally have trouble reading the small screen - I do need new glasses as well as having old eyes, but I digress - The app completely solves this. Once you activate the app, turn on wifi on the camera and select 'Go Pro App' instead of remote control your device - for me iPhone or iPad syncs to the wifi the way it would any other wifi network. Not only do I get a full preview - with a slight delay - video and audio, but I also get full camera control . I no longer have to struggle with reading the small print on the screen.

Let me just put this in simple terms, I can mount my camera out of reach on the bow of my kayak and not only operate it, but change the camera settings. Again I will let you know how this plays out in real usage, but this is very exciting.

Here is my one concern - and it is minor - in order to connect to the camera from my iPad I have to go into settings and attach it like a wifi network. When I have two cameras running I would like to be able to do it within the app itself. I plan on picking up a Hero 3 Silver shortly and we will see how they play together.

Chasing Ice - A follow up

The filmmaker behind chasing ice - Jeff Orlowski - has written a short piece at the Daily Beast about the impacts of Sandy and what their goal was. It makes for a short, interesting read in the vain of 'what can you do?'

I would also encourage you to spread word of this film in any way you can, not because I think the film needs help to be seen, but because I think the message needs to be spread as far and wide as possible.

Here is why:

This is a photo of a paddler who set me on the path towards where I am now and also instilled in me my love of Alaska. I want as many people as possible to be able to have experiences like this, and see sites like this. I also don't want peoples lives to be submerged by rising oceans. You can chose which of those two things you think are more important. Here is that link again.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Balance - the video

Balance is what I strive for. I don't mean balance in my boat, though I work on that too, I am talking about work life balance. A decade and half ago I left a job that was interesting, fun, I worked with intelligent, creative people, and had the potential for me to make a lot of money.

In 2000, several years after a divorce, I took a NOLS course and realized what was missing from my life. It wasn't enough for me to make a lot of money, or work with cool people. I wanted to be having my kind of fun, and to be doing that I wanted to be working outside. I found my path, and while I am still not outside enough, I am working in the outdoor industry and loving it. I will never make a million dollars but I will be much happier.

With that in mind is yet another series of short films, about a whitewater kayaker, a mountain biker, and a snowboarder, all seeking balance.

Here is episode 1

Balance Ep.1- At Ease from Lee Visual on Vimeo.

Two notes, at the end of the "stocking stuffer' post I said it might be my last post for the year. How wrong was I?! At the beginning of this post I mention and linked to the 'balance' lesson. There is a much updated version of that lesson - along with new video and new techniques - in my book. Enlightened Kayaking, which is on sale the month of December for $5.99.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Urban Outlaw

In my continuing series of 'craftsman' short films, this one is about a guy obsessed with Porsches. From 1964 to 1973, he collects and restores, adding his own touches. Shot beautifully this one is a little longer than some of the other ones I have posted, but enjoyable just the same.

What I find most interesting is he says a lot of the things I say. He talks about feel, how it clears his mind, and he focuses on nothing but the driving. He meditates and he doesn't know it. Enjoy.

URBAN OUTLAW - THE MOVIE from Tamir Moscovici on Vimeo.

Is there a source for well crafted short documentaries? If there isn't there should be.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Buddhism, simply put, in western terms.

When people find out I am Buddhist they are generally surprised. They then wait a week or two and come back to me with questions, which I am happy to answer. I live in the American south, and a lot of the population is Christian - of some form or another - and they are generally amazed that I don't believe in a deity. Many think that Buddha is considered a god.

Recently I found a description of the basics of Buddhism on Reddit. It was so wonderful and in such simple western terms, I had to steal it. So thanks to Redditor Phillydrew, here is a simple, westernized view of Buddhism, for those of you interested. Pardon the harsh language. 

There was this guy named Buddha. He realized that people can be really selfish and sometimes really stupid. They get upset because their lives are really sucky and all they did was blame other people for their problems. He felt bad and tried to figure it out. Aside from the inevitables like, birth, growth, illness, and death, he figured out there was a way to not be so affected by the situations that life presented. He presented four absolute (noble) truths and 8 ways to realize them.
4 noble truths:
  1. life can suck.
  2. it sucks because we get attached to the stuff that we imagine makes our selves "unique" and "special."
  3. There is a way to not be affected by the suckness.
  4. If we open our eyes and follow eight simple methods, we can be freed from letting the suckness affect us.
8 fold path:
  1. No one is absolute nor omnipotent. We're all pretty ignorant.
  2. If you don't learn to stop and say, "hey, i don't know" you're not going to change yourself in a way that's going to free you from the suckness.
  3. Don't open your mouth without considering wtf it's going to sound like to the person on the receiving end.
  4. You're not the center of the universe. Your actions not only affect everything around you, they can affect everything around the people around you. Don't do stupid shit that's going to hurt other people or yourself.
  5. Don't take action that's going to make life suck for other people at your benefit.
  6. If something pisses you off, figure out if you need to fix yourself first. Otherwise,
  7. Know the consequences of your actions, you dumb fuck. Moreover, everyone has their own reality and their own right to their own level of dumbfuckery. When you make a mistake (you will), don't be proud, admit it, and be open to remedy yourself and the situation. And when in a group take care to not act unless it benefits the group in someway.
  8. If you don't pay attention to the task at hand you're going to have a bad time. (Stop texting and pay attention to the wheel, you dumb fuck)

Thursday, December 6, 2012

December only - Enlightened Kayaking for $5.99

For the remainder of December I am offering Enlightened Kayaking for the reduced price of $5.99 - a 35% savings. Unfortunately you can't give an iBook as a gift - how about working on that Apple! - but you can give an iTunes gift card and use that to redeem an iBook. Nothing says Christmas like refining your forward stroke.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

GoPro Hero 3 Black Edition - First impression

I have been using the GoPro Hero for a long time. I used a company owned Hero - the last version before the first HD. I liked it. It ran on a AA battery (or was it AAA) and did a pretty good job. When I heard there was going to be an HD version I jumped on it. I literally bought the first one I could get my hands on.

Here is a little quick history. I used to work in the film industry in NY - before realizing that my life goals weren't the same as everyone else's! When I worked in film I had an opportunity to work with a company called REBO studio. They were one of the first companies in NY to work with HD. This was  late 80's early 90's. Back then an HD camera was the size of a full size studio camera, and it was attached to a truck. Every time you moved the camera you had to 're-register' it, which took around 30 minutes. When looking at the monitors in the truck I couldn't believe how sharp the video was. I had never seen HD before as it didn't really exist yet in the United States.

When I got my hands on the first HD hero I couldn't believe 20 years had shrunk the camera down to 3 ounces, and could be worn on a helmet. It still amazes me. I got a lot of use out of my Hero HD. I shot every video on this website, the videos for my book, and all of Paddle North. If my father was alive he would say, that camera doesn't owe you a dime, and he would be right.

I skipped the HD 2, but as soon as I saw the Hero 3, I knew it was the way to go. I also went for the black edition, as it came with the remote. This meant I could mount the camera to my bow, and control it with the remote from my wrist. It finally arrived today. After charging both the camera and the remote, I added a card. The 3 uses micro SD cards which means that a lot of my accessories from my HD1 wont work on the 3. That is a bit of a bummer, but I understand it. The first most striking thing is that this camera is actually about half the size of the HD Hero and the HD hero 2. And when you go to install the battery, you realize that half of the 'camera' is actually battery. (The batteries from my Hero 1 don't work on it either, and I have 8 of them!) The camera doesn't come with all the accessories that the HD1 and 2 came with. No vented helmet strap. No head strap. You get the Camera and remote. usb charging cables for both, and the remote cable is special. 1 curved and 1 flat baseplate (down from two each in previous models) 1 rubber thingy. 2 elbow joints, one quick release plate, and one front of helmet mount. You also get one vented back door - to be used when you need better audio, though when using it you of course lose waterproofness. With my previous camera, I didn't like putting the wear and tear on the housing, so I bought a skeleton case for it so I didn't have to change back doors. I will probably do the same thing this time. The housing - and camera underneath it - have an additional button compared to previous GoPro cameras. It is located on the side of the housing on the right side. More on this later.

The large flat baseplate that is used to hold the camera in the box is one of my favorite accessories, I use it under the bungies on my kayak. That is now glued into the box. Good thing I have three from previous cameras. So while you are getting fewer accessories in the box, you are still getting a fairly complete kit.

The first big hurdle is pairing the remote to the camera. I read the directions, and they didn't work. I found a video online, and that didn't help. I finally went to trouble shooting on the site, and got the two to pair. I am not exactly sure what I did differently reading through the directions, but as long as they paired I am not to worried.

The remote can do everything the cameras buttons do. There is a display on the remote, that shows what the display on the camera is showing. You can even turn it on, but in order to do that, you need to have the wifi on. That is where the new button the side comes in. This turns on the wifi and makes a little blue light flash. I will need to figure out how long it can be in wifi mode.

I also need to see how long the battery on the camera lasts compared to older GoPro cameras. So that is my first look, stay tuned for video.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Stocking Stuffers for the Paddler in your life 2012

The follow up to Christmas gifts for the paddler in your life, what to put in the christmas stocking to make a paddler happy. These are in no particular order, and are all under $25.00.

#1 Frakta from Ikea $.59 That's right! 59 cents! This large mouthed bag is perfect for paddling gear. The material is water proof, and impact resistant. and did I mention it is 59 CENTS!

#2 Floaty back door $15.00 shooting with a GoPro in the water? Time for the floaty back door. Bright orange so it is visible floating on the surface when the crazy mount you tried doesn't work quite as expected.

#3 GSI Titanium Kung Foon $16.95 Because I like chop sticks and titanium sporks. This is both. How cool will you look eating your ramen noodles with wooden chopsticks on the coast of British Columbia!

#4 REI Hiker First aid kit $22.50 As I realized last spring, even on simple outings you can cut the tips of your fingers. Always keep a small first aid kit in your cockpit. This one is nice and small. If only they made a paddler specific version in a tiny dry bag.

#5 REI Doppio $10.50 Another REI product that I really like. A tiny vacuum coffee cup with a sip lid. Designed for espresso, that isn't what I use it for....ahem. it's perfect for whiskey.

#6 REI personal pack towel $9.95 and up. This list ins't subsidized by REI, I promise. These awesome towels come in a myriad of sizes from tiny to huge, and are super absorbent. I have one connected to each of my paddling duffels and one in my cook kit.

#7 Enlightened Kayaking $8.99 I may be prejudiced by I think this is a great book. Designed for the iPad it covers everything from getting into a kayak, to rolling. each lesson accompanied by an HD video. Since putting up this post, I decided to offer Enlightened Kayaking for $5.99 - a 35% savings. This is going to run for the remainder of December 2012. 

#8 Multi-tide app $FREE  A simple tides app for your iPhone. Easy to use, and in the palm of your hand. Much simpler than finding a tide chart for where you happen to be going.

#9 Tibetan Prayer Flags $5.00 and up Whether you are a Buddhist or not, prayer flags look beautiful hanging in your yard. I have multiple sets above my kayaks.

#10 Insight Timer $1.99 If you read this blog you know that I am a huge fan of meditation. Much like Green tea, the list of things meditation cures is almost endless. I have been using this timer for a couple of years and absolutely love it.

Here is last years version of this list. 

This may be my last post for the year, it depends on how often I get out to paddle. If it is, please have a wonderful holiday, paddle straight through December and into the new year. Be safe and Healthy.

Saturday, December 1, 2012


I am really enjoying the REI 1440 project. A day is made up of 1440 minutes, and at this website you can add a photo of yourself doing something in the outdoors. It is a simple idea with a great user interface.

As times full up - there may be four or five photos for each minute - you can vote to move a photo to the top.

I am curious if in the future they will also add dates, as at the moment it is one 1440 minute block with all days ganged together into 1 group. Head on over and add a photo.

I would love a video version of this.