To Think or Not to Think

20161221_160829-animationHello readers, I sit here looking at my screen deciding on the topic for today’s post. I recently returned from a great kayaking workout on December 31, 2016 and my creative juices are flowing. It’s a tradition I stick to every year regardless of weather. One thing I will continue to state is if you are going to venture out onto the water during winter months, be safe, be prepared, and be smart.  Just the other day another kayaker lost his life and this type of loss is always disheartening to hear. My sympathies go to the family of this man.  20161214_082557020161214_08280220161214_111941So, what do I write about? Money, social media, my son and his priceless expressions I get to enjoy watching, my thoughts on socially controversial topics, my future book in the editing phase, boats, planes, trains, automobiles, etc.?  Scientific innovations?  The 7 wonders of the world?  Entrepreneurship? I would like to talk about anything that may motivate someone to do something that he or she enjoys. I can sit here, yell and scream, but let’s face it.  Although I do not mind being assertive, because some need that tough love shit to get motivated, I would prefer to keep this post positive, a tint of humor, with a dash of entertainment. I guess my near death experiences could be a topic of interest? (There have been multiple experiences, and it is scary thinking about it.)  For example, think about a soft cover jeep rocketing into the exosphere only to come back down to the troposphere, with the tail slapping a tree, igniting on fire like spaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket and landing into a creek at the bottom of a cliff. That one was a mouthful. I walked away from that experience with a different perspective. We can talk about water accidents, too – i.e., hypothermia, heat exhaustion, crashes, deaths, blacking out, and my, oh my, the list goes on.  So, where does one begin to write when there are so many topics from which to choose? Just what do writers decide to write about when there are so many potential options?    What drives the writer?20161214_15192820161214_152038A thought came to mind and one of which I am confident a few readers may have experienced.  How many of you may have had at least one person tell you one of the following:  Don’t think too much; You’re overthinking it; You are thinking too much; or my favorite, Your brain must be on fire.    What the osmosis is that?   I would like to hear from the readers and their thoughts on why people might say such things. Please add them to comment box below.

I am just free writing and trying to show my sense of humor. It’s a new year and new possibilities.

I would like to think that there are plenty of individuals on this planet that think about everything or whatever factor that piques their interest, and especially if it benefits not just oneself, but others as well?  Consider the term “think tank”.  People get paid for thinking and who wouldn’t want to be paid for thinking on multiple levels? Now, the likelihood that each of these individuals has a degree (or multiple degrees) is high, but what about those without a degree who are paid for using a skill that think tanks love? If someone has a talent, or capability to brainstorm with certain given subject matters for which companies or entities pay, should these individuals be allowed to use their gift even without paper credentials?  What do you think?   I’m curious to hear your thoughts.20161214_16130020161216_120024Here is another question. Do our memories become opportunities for reflection during certain times? Do we as humans continuously think about some topic regardless of anything we might try to do not to think? I kayak to do just that and sometimes kayak for longer durations than other kayaking workouts, but I know I am still thinking, using my brain, my frontal lobe working together with the motor and sensory cortexes, shaking hands with the broca’s area so I can write this post with some humor. I want to think. I enjoy thinking. I want to use my brain. I want to learn. I want to continue growing and utilizing that muscle. I would like to think that others would as well. We are all students in this life; in my opinion we all continue learning daily.20161219_17061520161231_083241I guess I found something to write about after all, because I just keep on typing. The brain. I love it. Just the term, “brain,” is intriguing.  What an unbelievable organ we each possess and yet so many people take for granted how vulnerable we really are when it comes to our brains.  The following example made me scratch my head, however.  One day, while hanging out with a few individuals, the subject of due process in the court of law, particularly, the topic of torture, whether sanctioned or not, became the topic of conversation, particularly where we each stood on this subject.  The person who initiated this subject matter opened a can of worms with this topic, because no one wanted to talk about it and when he asked what my position on this matter was he almost started a fist fight with me when he heard my response, simply because my response was not what he wanted to hear.  He immediately became confrontational.  How ironic considering the question he posed!  The good vibes in the area completely vanished as he, the originator of the question, became agitated from the logical responses I provided – prior to being interrupted by his temper. Have you ever watched a minnow swimming in a small cup? The minnow is in a small cup bouncing and flopping around.  Interestingly enough, we barely spoke after that day – purely over a difference in perspective for a question he posed to the group.  The others in the group were reticent on the topic, but I firmly believe in speaking my mind, particularly if someone opens the door on a topic which interests me.new-jersey-december-2016-530tripWe should cherish our freedom of speech, my readers.  If you ask a question, particularly one that is on a complex and highly-emotional topic, you better be prepared for an answer. Did I think too deeply on this post? About what shall I write next? After today we have another 363 days of learning to go for this year.

See you in the next post.

May your 2017 be a good year.new-jersey-december-2016-508tripnew-jersey-december-2016-264trip

Inspire

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The Successful Kayaker

33b38-phone2b12-13-20152bocean2b063trip

This post will mainly focus on two often-ignored concepts these days: respect and common sense. One of my favorite quotes, “I’ve never responded well to entrenched negative thinking,” stated by the late David Bowie, comes to mind.  When I am on the water or near the water I am happy. So, when I kayak or when I have been the individual behind the wheel of any vessel, I have always taken this responsibility pretty seriously. Why? Because the water has no mercy and the inherent dangers are, in my opinion, greater on the water than on / in other mediums.  Experience tends to teach one a thing or two about the respect for nature.

Furthermore, regardless of what anyone tells you, particularly from the naysayers who tell you something cannot be done, don’t pay them any mind and do it anyway. Don’t let anyone ever talk you out of doing something that makes sense to you. Don’t let anyone ever tell you that you are stupid for even trying. The following is a very short synopsis of a highly detailed plan to kayak from Virginia to New Jersey. The endless remarks, looks, and outlandish comments I heard in reference to this ocean kayaking expedition could fill a book.

A buddy with whom I kayaked regularly, and, by the way, this was an individual who had far less experience on the water than me, had planned to join me on this ocean kayaking expedition.  Even though he had less experience with water, this was not a journey my family wanted me to make – at least without arousing great concern – on my own.   I am not the know all, do all, superman of water, but I have had my time card punched with my share of logged water time, so I am confident when I venture out into the big blue.  Initially, my buddy wondered why I kayaked so much and why I was training so hard. He had no idea what my ocean kayaking plans entailed, but once he heard the plan, he wanted to go and his mind was set, so I decided why not.  He was on board and I put into action the VA to NJ trip; it was no longer a solo trip and I now had to plan for two, but this made my wife happy, because, believe me, she was NOT thrilled I was doing this trip, and even more so because I was going at it alone.   So, the training began; like a mako shark eating a yellowfin tuna, I was practicing for this crazy idea of mine and I was determined to make it happen.

Training on all fronts continued at an even faster pace now, mentally and physically. My co-pilot knew I had maps upon maps, charts, tidal maps and times, weather conditions from past to present to analyze the weather and marine patterns, and I had real time feed, gear, and pretty much anything that one could think of to do a trip of this nature. This was no hop on a Ferris wheel, go around and get off-type of ride and so the training and preparation needed to be just as such and it was. It was difficult, but with a purpose of a reward at the end.

The water has no mercy and if you treat water as a joke, then you will die. That is the bottom line when dealing with water in this type of excursion or anytime you venture out in to the water in such a manner. You will die if you do not take it seriously; one should always have respect for the ocean. So, nonstop preparations were underway. I even got my father involved because he is a captain and a damn good one, so I trust his judgements in these matters. At first, though, I was very reluctant on sharing this with him. My dad is the type of man that if you tell him you are going to do something, then you do it or at least try. I like to think I did make him a little proud.

Practice, practice, practice, and more practice. I would watch people on the shore line just watching me practice and then I would hear the commentaries, and, at times, harassment, regarding my ocean kayaking adventure.  However, they were watching from the safety of land.  Hell, I would have loved if other people wanted to sign up and join in; that would have made the trip even safer in numbers. If anything it would have been interesting to have other kayakers on the water even if it was just to practice with me for the day.

So, one day my co-pilot and I were training; even though I had noticed certain behaviors even before this day, I chose to brush it off until I knew without a doubt something was going on. You see, when you are on the water you need to understand the simplest to the most complex situations that may or could occur.  You need to be able to trust that your colleague or co-pilot will be there for you just in case. That notorious “just-in-case” situation always lurks in the back of your mind. That is what keeps you alive – the reality that you know the dangers, but you are prepared for the possibility and will face them with sound judgment. Would you jump into a body of water without a wetsuit/dry suit knowing that you could freeze to death when you have the gear available at hand?  Case closed!

As the trip date neared, I made preparations for time off of work and one last practice run before the big trip; I repeatedly received questions from my co-workers about why I wanted to kayak on the ocean across several states.  The memory of those repeated questions is what prompted this particular blog post. If anything, my critics just pissed me off to the point where I just pushed myself even harder. I found that people like to talk shit about things they want to be doing themselves, but just don’t, and when they see someone actively pursuing a goal, it brings out the worst in people. I experienced this. I remember this and I will continue to write about this.   As Grant Cardone would say, NO NEGATIVITY ALLOWED!

So, the trip was just around the corner and my gut was telling me to cancel the trip, because something was just not right. With a trip such as this you have to take everything into consideration and my gut is and was a major factor in everything I did or do. I just needed to know without a doubt that I could depend on my co-pilot if something went wrong, not just for my safety, but for his as well. We were on our last practice session and before I even unloaded my gear, I noticed my co-pilot was out in the water drunk as a skunk, and high as a kite.  I decided to forego the kayaking expedition due to my co-pilot’s pattern of behavior; his thoughts were “let’s just do it and if we need help, we can just contact the Coast Guard for rescue”. I had a different plan of action; after all, I was ready, prepped, and focused on this trip and my number one concern was if this guy would be able to save himself – or me – if necessary.  Perfectly rational and honest concerns…

I started from day one with this guy telling him all the dangers involved, what could or would go wrong even in the best of weather conditions, but my gut was telling me he had not heard any of this. I asked him straight out if he was using heroin again and the reply was yes. I had my answer to one, my gut feeling, two his mental state, and three the decision to cancel the trip. Now, I was pissed to no end, because I felt I let down a lot of people and more importantly myself. I knew I would receive “I told you so” from all of the naysayers; in the end, though, I was the one who prevailed. I was the one who acquired indispensable knowledge. I was the one who put into action my idea, one which prompted a lot of criticism from others.  In looking back, I realized I made the right decision (that is a “no-brainer” when your colleague is using), and I still kayaked over 400 miles anyway in preparation, an accomplishment no one can take away from me.

The possibility of a future trip still lingers in the recesses of my mind; I haven’t decided if I will make the trip, but it is still on my list of things to check off and chalk up to experience.   What is on your “bucket” or “to-do” list? Have you attempted any of your significant goals, or have you received criticism for your goals in life?

Go after what you feel is right, even if it just starts off as a simple idea in your mind. What if you don’t try and ask yourself later, why I didn’t at least start? If it is attainable, then why not try to attain that specific goal. It will be difficult to ignore those who will question every single action, particularly when you are trying to improve yourself as a person, but as long as you stand up for yourself, and know in your eyes that you are doing right, then why not attempt your goals, dreams, that personal “to-do” list, or a long-standing bucket list. I am and I will continue to do so. I hope you will fight for something that means something to you, regardless of whether it is earning a GED, going back to college, quitting drinking or smoking, etc., or standing up for your beliefs, then that is better than nothing. If it is writing or speaking for a living and if millions of dollars are your goal then you will definitely have to start with who is looking at you in the mirror. Something is better than nothing. More of something is better than something.  Every day you keep working towards that goal it is a better day.

As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them. John F. Kennedy

I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination. Jimmy Dean

Believe you can and you’re halfway there. Theodore Roosevelt

See you in the next post.

World of Dolphins

Dolphins are an inspiring sight to see and even more so if you have the privilege to actually be in such close proximity to get a glimpse into the world of marvelous wonders these mammals offer the onlooker, surfer, kayaker, or spectator from a dolphin tour or on the beach.  A while back, I mentioned on social media how being around dolphins in Virginia Beach, whether swimming or kayaking, is an experience within itself and a privilege.  (My post:  “Come and check out Virginia Beach. Swimming or kayaking around a pod of dolphins is within itself an experience and a privilege. Taking pictures is an extra bonus.”)  I received one response which indicated that dolphins in Virginia Beach are “common dolphins,” rather than bottlenose dolphins (as if those are so rare!), and I should not provide misinformation.       Mindboggling!

So, if you have the opportunity or the privilege to swim, surf, kayak, see, watch, or go on a tour to be around dolphins, does it really make a difference what kind of dolphin it is? How many people do you think never have the privilege or the humbling opportunity to even come in contact with a dolphin, particularly from a close distance?  Personally, out of the 43 – 44 types of dolphin species, I am always in a state of awe when I encounter one.

Humbling experience when you are kayaking and these wonderful mammals are swimming next to you

Now we can get technical and identify each type of dolphin species, including their locations, eating habits, group dynamics, migration patterns, etc., or address the ongoing threats from poachers, fishing liners, accidental boat strikes, pollution such as waste dumps, netting left behind from trollers, micro beads, and even radioactive material in our waterways from disasters (Fukishima, for example) and / or oil spills and gas contamination from tankers. So, regardless of what type of dolphin it is or where these fantastic mammals swim, I will continue to be amazed and feel privileged to be around them.  After all, what does it really matter what species a dolphin represents to most of us (unless, of course, one is a scientist, marine biologist, etc.)?

See you in the next post!

Kayaking Adventures: Marvels of Nature part II

Kayaking Adventures: Marvels of Nature part II

I thought I would share something I wrote a while back. As I stated on one of my Instagram photographs, growing up in a household practicing two faiths allows me to see things from a different perspective. So, I tend to put a lot of my beliefs into what I try to capture, portray and share with everyone.

Kneeling down before my soul

do I pray, do I pray, do I pray

Please show passion upon the scared.

Please teach the lesson.

do I pray, do I pray, do I pray

Please keep holding my hand.

Please show truth.

do I pray, do I pray, do I pray

Please guide my light as always

Please make the light burn

do I pray, do I pray, do I pray

Kneeling down before my soul

R.Konz

This is me kayaking the other day in the Atlantic waters taking photographs of the oceanfront surf breaking off the jetty and trying to capture that moment when the spray rips away off the lip of the curl/tube, just before it breaks.  The air temperature was around 68-70 degrees, with a slight breeze of 8-10 knots, the water temperature was around 53 degrees. (If you go out on the water during the fall or winter months, ALWAYS prepare and use gear for the water temperatures and not the air temperatures. Your safety should be your number one priority no matter what.)

The spray of the water coming off of the ocean was a gentle mist; I always remind myself that we are at the mercy of the ocean and respect is to be shown. The swell was around 3 to 4 feet, and 5 to 7 feet at the break, which had the power to crush my 9 foot kayak into the jetty like a train hitting a car if I didn’t show respect.

Then I heard what sounded like a soda bottle releasing its contents after being shaken less than 15 feet away from my starboard side. A Dolphin surfaced and blew water out of the blowhole. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, a school of Dolphins appeared, swimming past my kayak, leaving me just sitting there in awe.

I was very comfortable around these amazing and intelligent marine mammals. I look at the environment and 90% of the time I am in a state of awe with what I see and this again was no exception. I get to see things that a majority of people do not get a chance to see, so I take pictures to share these moments.

Thank you and see you at the next post.

Kayaking Adventures: Marvels of Nature

Kayaking Adventures: Marvels of Nature

Kayaking Adventures:  Marvels of Nature

Over the years living and kayaking around the Chesapeake Bay and the James River waterways, I have been fortunate enough to practice my photography using eagles, the great blue heron, egrets, and many other wonderful creatures as my photography subjects on a regular basis. This particular bald eagle was one of four eagles that I came across yesterday November 3, 2015 during my kayaking venture.

These particular eagles seem to have migrated to the Gordon Creek off of the James River for the fall. I have been watching them slowly work their way up and down the James River for the past few months.  It seems this particular cluster of eagles have inhabited nicely along the Gordon Creek for the present. The food is plentiful and the eagles should be innocuous, but might relocate when hunting season starts in the next couple months.  Until then, they will be an inspiring sight to watch as they put on an aerial ballet of awe-inspiring moments for photographers and nature watchers alike.

This is me kayaking yesterday on the waterways taking photographs. I purposely played around with the contrast and saturation for fun. My wife likes this picture of me; apparently I rarely smile.  A short synapsis: Since my kayak is more than 7 years old, 9ft in length, and weighs just over 54pounds, in combination with my own body weight and gear, I am paddling around 285pounds of weight roughly 3-15 miles every trip.  And, in the winter months 300+pounds (with the addition of cold weather gear) is the norm. Within the past two years I have logged over 600 miles of paddle time.

To give someone an idea from a navigational perspective just how far that is; the starting point would be kayaking from the tip of Gordons Creek, just off of the James River from Virginia to The Manasquan Inlet in New Jersey and still have a few miles to spare.  The following quotes are a few of my favorite quotes.  Enjoy!

  1. Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.

Albert Einstein

  1. Everything you can imagine is real.

Pablo Picasso

  1. Nobody is bored when he is trying to make something that is beautiful, or to discover something that is true.

William Ralph Inge

  1. Great ideas originate in the muscles.

Thomas A. Edison

  1. What is now proved was once only imagined.

William Blake

See you in the next post!

A Dance in the clouds

A Dance in the clouds

Trying to take photographs of the bald eagle during flight is challenging enough, but imagine trying to capture a shot at an altitude of 10,000 feet at speeds of about 30 to 35 mph (which this bird is capable of achieving). Unfortunately for my Rebel T-5 and my 75-300mm lens, that is a little difficult for the types of shots I would really like to capture of this fascinating bird. So, when I am kayaking and see these magnificent birds a few yards away from the shore lines or circling above my head, I try to capture as many shots as I possibly can. I just sit there in my kayak and snap away trying to capture every detail of the moment, because these birds tend not to linger too long especially when and where I see them on a recurring basis. Over the years living and kayaking around the Chesapeake Bay and the James River waterways, I have been fortunate enough to practice my photography using these birds on a regular basis.

In this particular photograph I see a strong and powerful creature that glides across the sky with grace and has a domineering presence. This could be why these birds have been a national emblem of the United States since 1782, although perhaps Benjamin Franklin would disagree with this statement. Nonetheless, the Eagle is a beautiful bird to watch and to use as a wonderful subject to continue practicing my photography.

One of my favorite artists is Pablo Picasso. I know, cliché, right? However, to coincide with Pablo Picasso’s birthday on 25 October, I thought I would share a few points attributed to him – quotes that often run through my mind when I am photographing sunsets. A favorite is “The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls.” Nothing would be farther from the truth when it comes to sunsets, because the day’s end offers an opportunity to reflect on lessons learned from the day.

Another perennial favorite: “I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it.” So true! I try to capture the essence of the moment, especially when the sun is reflecting and bouncing over the wrinkles of water, unleashing the stillness that seems to follow a sunset. “Colors, like features, follow the changes of the emotions.” Picasso could not have said it any better. The colors and the elaborate ballet of light reflecting on the water remind me of the grace and precision of dancers on stage. I try to capture that one single moment, the pivotal point in that magnificent dance of time.

 

 See you in the next post!

Tech Tips: Camera Options

Tech Tips: Camera Options

 

Technology is important for a photographer. As my wife would tell me, Alexander Gardner paved the way for photographers during the American Civil War. Currently, I use two types of Canon cameras, my original baby, the T-3 Rebel, a fantastic beginner’s camera for one who is just getting into photography and is on a very tight budget. The camera itself is versatile and light and can take a pounding. I have owned mine for 4 years and have taken over 20,000 photographs, dropped it, hiked and kayaked through multiple storms; it has weathered conditions ranging from 15 degrees below zero and temperatures above 100 and the camera just keeps on going. The Canon T-3 will teach the beginner patience. Every photographer wants that one shot that is the holy wow of shots. With the T-3 you will have to wait, anticipate, and shoot before the action happens. You see a bird such as a Blue Heron or an Egret spearing its head into the water for that fish or snake and then eating it. You want to capture that moment when the Heron or Egret is lifting its head out of the water and the droplets of water are spraying off of the neck and head. You will have to anticipate the shot and shoot, because the shutter speed on the T-3 does not provide a barrage of shots or the favorite photographer sound, the clicking shutter. The T-3 is a great camera; keep in mind it is not waterproof, however. Lesson learned.

My new favorite is the Canon T-5, an upgrade from the T-3. The shutter speed is just about the same as the T-3, but the picture quality is better. The megapixels are higher in the T-5 which will make the smallest of details stand out a little more – such as those water droplets spraying off of the neck and head of a Heron or Egret. Whether or not you buy direct from Canon or a store, the prices will vary, but the camera is a great investment for someone getting into photography. We found a great package deal at Amazon!

These are two cameras that will teach someone patience and assistance in understanding photography from a beginner’s point of view, instead of purchasing a higher-priced model right from the start. I feel one would come to appreciate what it means to be patient when taking photographs with these two models.
See you in the next post!