Biting the Big Apple

Tuesday, was a day of travel. Rising bright and early to be ready to leave the land of QIVC at 7AM. Emilie Michaud was gracious enough to give @themadhatter and I a ride tithe bus station in Albany. We arrived shortly after 8AM for or 10:25AM bus. Sad news dear friends, the Rensselaer library does in fact not open until 10AM; though fear not, we had come equipped with our own books. I also, managed to be stung by a wasp which managed to help pass the time. Three hours of bus ride later we disembarked in NYC. And began the search for a subway stop. @failspy had promised to text us directions and despite them never coming through we managed quite well. @themadhatter managed to find us a station and figure out the map allowing us to make it to the 110th St. Stop and walk to school just in time to catch the last half hour of the day and the gratitudes circle.

Wednesday was an all school excursion to Brighton beach. Offering up the first chance of the year for me to wear my bathing suit. Initial fears of rain proved false as @ryanshollenberger managed to call the sun out of hiding with a little help from Sterling, one of our visitors this week. With luck and sun-screen I managed to soak up the delicious rays of the sun and not turn as red as my bathing suit. @bear and I took a trip to the Brighton Bazaar’s hot bar for lunch and I had some choice anxiety. There was just too much good food. After a scrumptious Russian inspired lunch, I combed the beach for coal. Never have I found so much coal in such a short amount of beach, as I have at Brighton Beach. If anyone knows the cause of this I would love to hear it. As the day on the beach wound down @failspy, @lillaw and I had a game of catch with the disc I brought before packing our belongings to head back to school and home.

Thursday was a fairly low energy day. With the help of @abbyo I polished up my résumé to apply for a haberdasher’s position in Park Slope. I read more of Trinity, a graphic novel  about Los Alamos, the Manhattan project, and the first Nuclear Weapons. The slurch caught me shortly after lunch and the resulting power nap was crucial. Post school day, I took @timotree home, we had some great conversations on the bus ride up town about different navigational apps and the programming of Galactic Nemeses. After we got off the bus he showed me the highest naturally occurring point on the Island of Manhattan and took my picture standing on the point itself. After catching the A train from one of the best looking subway entrances I’ve seen I met Hannah at Union Sq. park for some hanging out and Gelato. Quite possibly I had the best pistachio flavored gelato I’ve ever had. From there the delicious food continued as I met Abby back up town near school for grocery shopping and a dinner of fried fish.

Today, has been another beautiful day at ALCNYC. After the change up meeting, I finally managed to cover some blank text blocks I’d bound a few months ago. It was satisfying to get the crash and glue on the spines and then cover them with some pleasingly teal card stock I cannibalized from a folder. While they sat under some weights drying I sat down to lunch with @abbyo, cheese, bread, hummus, pickles, greens, and some samosas. Delicious. After lunch I took a pleasant stroll through the park with @bear and we discussed the next steps to take for our beverage start-up. We made it back just in time for clean up and blogging. Later tonight I have both @lillaw’s play and a birthday celebration scheduled and I’m greatly looking forward to both.

Who know’s what this weekend will bring but I greatly look forward to spending some more time in the city with my friends.

Until next week dear readers, whoopy pies and cider donuts,


Lessons in humility through fancy work

The heart of a ship is its bell. Often the first piece of bright work to be polished and when a ship has reached the end of its life, it’s the last piece removed from the boat. Bells sound the meals, keep the time, and signal the change of watch. However, the bell can’t be wrung without a bell rope.   Hours of craft and work go into making a bell rope, as it is ultimately an expression of the crew’s pride in its vessel. This past week I’ve had the pleasure of crafting the new bell rope for the SSV Oliver Hazard Perry.

Before I had the fortune of being called to come play with the Agile crew I was most recently employed as a ship’s rigger for the Oliver Hazard Perry. It was my pleasure to be part of the building team for the first full rigged ocean going vessel of her size and class to be built in America in over a century. I met and worked with an amazing group of people, and learned another obscure skill set, namely how to splice and seize wire. Several weeks ago, after I had left the project, one of my friends sent me a picture of our ship’s broken bell rope. My response was if they furnished me with the materials to craft a new bell rope, and gave me a few weeks time I would make them one. Low and behold, within a couple weeks a package arrived in the mail from my dear friends Vincent and Elise, complete with a roll of #72 seine twine. The ball was in my court. When I was home last week I made sure to pick up my copy of the “Ashley Book of Knots” commonly referred to as the “Ashley’s” or “ABOK” (pronounced A-B-O-K).

And so began my lesson in  humility. I decided to work a variation of ABOK #3754 for my bell rope (The Ashley’s is an encyclopedic collection of knots which are usually referred to by their number in the book). Fancy work such as bell ropes and bag lanyards is something I used to do regularly and take great pride in. Although it having been over a year since my last project I had to re-learn a few things. My first effort took me about two school days to complete. The knot work looked fine however the sticks I had used for the cores of my sinnets were weak. One broke and the other would have quickly rotted after a soaking of fresh water such as from rain. But I was finished. Completed with my task grudgingly undertaken for an organization I no longer worked for. And then I had a conversation with @bear.

He pointed out the low quality of my cores, and how it wasn’t okay. And despite my making (bad) logical excuses for the low quality of my work. He kept digging and explained his frustration with me. How that sense of workmanship made him distrust me with certain work and projects. We had a really solid, open and supportive communication.

And then I went and worked in Paul’s garden for a couple hours and did some serious thinking. About why I was making it, how I had made the piece and why I was accepting of the standard of quality. I came out of the garden with a few realizations. The culture of “good enough” had been prevalent at my old job. The foreman had stopped caring and his attitude had slowly seeped into most aspects of the project, and that was part of the reason I had left. I had quit my job and moved here to work on getting away from those kinds of attitudes and personal pit falls and I was failing. I hadn’t really changed yet, I was still just being “good enough;” functional but not great. I  went back to Bear and told him of my garden thoughts, and thanked him for pushing me to be a better version of myself.

That evening I picked apart my two days of work. Not with sadness or regret but with a sense of joy for the practice. Knowing that when I remade it the next day it would be better, it would be something I could be proud of.

Frisbee: Pies and Golf

I managed a surprise trip to my hometown this past week to visit my mother and play a couple rounds of disc golf on my old home course. A sport which I picked up from an ex-girlfriend, and while my passion for her has faded my love of the game remains strong. There’s nothing like getting out on the course on a beautiful day, and bombing some long drives. One of my absolute favorite sounds is the rattle of the chains as you sink your putt for under par. If ball golf is a good walk ruined then disc golf is a good walk made better. This sport of sports hasn’t always existed and like most things I enjoy I find myself just as curious about the history as the activity itself.

The history of disc golf is two fold, first the history of flying discs themselves and then the development of the sport of dosc golf.

The flying disc, known colloquially as a “frisbee,” dates back roughly to the turn of the 20th century. Around this time numerous individuals were playing games with various empty pie or cake tins. In fact it’s from the use of empty pie tins from the Frisbie Pie company of Bridgeport CT, that we get the name Frisbee. However it wasn’t until the late fifties that Frisbee would become synonymous with flying disc. The original business concept came to Fred Morrison when he and his wife were offered a quarter for a $.05 cake tin they were playing catch with on the beach in 1938. After his rerun from WWII Fred sketched up an improved aerodynamic disc, found a business partner and began marketing Flying Saucers, which became rebranded as Pluto Platters before the rights were sold to the Wham-o toy company and they were renamed Frisbees.

Disc golf was originally invented in the mid-twenties in Saskatchewan  by a group of students at Bladworth Elementary. They originated the game, which they called “Tin Lid Golf,” by playing with tin plates and throwing around a serious of obstacles at fixed targets. While greatly enjoying the game and developing a course once the group left school the game left with them and wouldln’t be seen again until the 1960’s.

Kevin Donnely would be the man to bring the game back. He started playing a version called Frisbee Street Golf in 1959 and by the mid sixties he had become the Recreation Supervisor of Newport Beach, California where Wham-o (Copywright owner and early Frisbee manufacturer) would hold the first Frisbee Golf tournaments. These early tournaments set many precedents for the game as it’s played today; establishing rules, pars, hole lengths and penalties for out of bounds etc. However the holes where just Hula Hoops (another Wham-o toy) and the discs used where just plain Frisbees and not the specialty discs we use today. The two figures who would bring the game to what we know it as now would be “Steady” Ed Headrick, who invented the disc golf basket in the 1970’s, and Dave Dunnipace who created the first modern golf disc in 1983. The creation of the golf disc with it’s beveled edge greatly improved the distance and accuracy of the game and really made it what it is today.

Since then there have been numerous courses developed all over the world. The Professional Disc Golf Association, founded by “Steady” Ed in the 1970’s, has had over 52,000 members to date and grows yearly. New courses are developed all the time, while advancements in disc technology continue to be made.

So, if you’ve ever wondered what those people in the park were doing when they were throwing discs into baskets now you have an idea. And if you’d ever like to join me for a round I’d be delighted.