Trip Report - 4/5/2010 - Vineyard Lake


Posted on : 4/16/2010 07:21:00 AM | By : Dann | In : , , ,

Not having anyone else to run rivers with, I decided to run out to Vineyard Lake.  They have a county park on the north side of the lake.  The other advantage was that I have been looking at making the run from Vineyard Lake down to Norvell on the Raisin River.  The park makes a good starting point.

I decided to take Wolf Lake Road south of Austin Road even though it isn't paved.  It turns out that Wolf Lake Road goes over the part of the river where I was paddling a few weeks back.  I had a good chance to scout out the rest of the Raisin below the Brooklyn Dam.  I had not seen that stretch of the river before.  For the most part it is wide open with the river running free.  There maybe some dead falls closer to town.  What I could see looked like a great paddle.

The boat launch at the county park is serviceable enough.  Pay attention to where the deep spot is when you leave as it will make your return that much easier.

I immediately headed for the southernmost part of the lake.  The paddling was easy enough until I cleared the peninsula.  Then all hell broke loose.

The wind was blowing enough to make a few whitecaps on the lake.  This is not a big lake.  It takes a bit of wind to make anything happen.  So it was really blowing that day.  Even though most of the waves were not whitecaps, they were large enough to make paddling difficult when they kept hitting you from the side.

The waves were hitting me from the side.  Paddling was difficult.  You had to time your stroke so that you were dipping into a wave instead of air.  Paddles are more effective when you put them in water.

From time to time I had to stop and wait for the waves to get into the right pattern.  And I slowly made my way south.

I eventually decided that I had received enough abuse.  I turned to the west and the houses at the end of Rosa Rita about the time that the houses ended on the eastern shore of the lake came to an end.  At least that way I had a chance of taking the waves head on instead of from the side.

That worked reasonably well until I got to the western side of the lake.  I thought I would be protected from the wind on that side.  For a while I was protected....until the wind shifted around to coming from the north.

Sigh.  Did you ever get the feeling that you was being watched?

Paddling up the west side of the lake, I saw a few muskrats and a couple ducks.  The amazing sight was the flock of swans.  There were ten swans swimming in a group.  I had intended to pass on the outside of the flock, but they had other plans.  Instead they swam right into my planned course.  So I shifted to the left and passed between the shore and the swans.

Eventually, a couple of them got perturbed enough that they took to the air.  Swans usually look so quiet and graceful.  But when they are taking off they are the most gangly and uncoordinated looking bird.  Their wings flap not quite at the same time.  Their feet flap so that it looks like they are running on the surface of the water.  Their heads bob all around.

Just before they really get into the air, you would swear that they are about to say "screw it" and plop back into the water.  But eventually they get free from the water and their quiet grace returns with a few flaps of those mighty wings.

There were a couple more swans at the northwest end of the lake.  I think I counted 12 to 15 swans during my paddle.

There is a small marsh that separates the larger lake from the small portion to the northwest.  I think I scared up a couple of nice sized lunkers while I was skirting the edge of the reeds.

Up in the smaller portion I found a nice sized flock of Canadian geese.  I don't think any of them had eggs, as they all left their nests on the shoreline as I passed.  But boy were they noisy.

I'll probably be the subject of the next meeting of the United Brotherhood of Waterfowl.

The outflow of the Raisin is located at the north end of the lake.  The channel there is pretty narrow.  The water was up when I made this run, but later in the year it may be hard to get through some areas.  I checked out the outflow from the bridge after I was done paddling.  There is a very short dam.  There was enough water flowing over it on that day that I could have coasted over it smoothly.  It probably isn't that easy later in the summer.

The return trip along the inside of the lake was mostly uneventful.  A few waves where I was exposed to the wind and easy paddling when I was downwind of the peninsula.

Total time for the trip was 1 hour 50 minutes.  I estimate the mileage at 4.2 which makes my speed about 2.3 mph.  Not bad given all the wind.

Why Pick On The Little Guy?


Posted on : 4/14/2010 07:30:00 AM | By : Dann | In : , ,

This news story has been making the rounds.  It points out some of the flaws in Massachusetts health care reform that was put in place a few years ago while Mitt Romney was governor.  Many of the problems currently being experienced in the Bay State will also be problems under the health care "reform" law that Mr. Obama signed recently.  There are more than a few tidbits worth reading.

What has my dander up is this:

When state lawmakers overhauled the health care system in 2006, they combined into a single insurance pool consumers who buy coverage on their own with those who get insurance through their jobs at small businesses that employ 50 or fewer people. The aim was to make insurance more affordable for the individuals buying coverage on their own, who tended to be sicker and therefore had been paying very high premiums. And the hope was that having small businesses and their workers absorb some of the cost of covering this group would raise their premiums only modestly.

So they stuck small business owners with the problem.  Not big businesses with huge insurance pools like General Electric, a major employer in Massachusetts.  Not the state government with its huge pool of employees and retirees.  They screwed small business owners.

Small businesses are the backbone of the US economy.  Larger businesses are fine.  They certainly add quite a bit to the economy as well, but small businesses provide the largest pool of jobs to those of us that need them.

And the politicians decided to screw them over by dumping the irregularly insured into their insurance pool.

The number four reason not to trust politicians is because they haven't figured out that you shouldn't piss in the river upstream from where you get your drinking water.  This is just the latest illustration of that fact.

Bow To Who?


Posted on : 4/14/2010 07:28:00 AM | By : Dann | In : ,

Or was that Hu?

I am more than slightly skeptical of photographs of President Obama bowing to just about everyone except the janitor when he meets foreign dignitaries.  As we saw with the photo of him supposedly leering at some young woman a while back, the truth as demonstrated on video is that he wasn't doing anything wrong.

Although Carla Bruni might have had a few words with Nicholas Sarcozy over his bit of butt gazing.

I should also add that other Presidents, including Republican Presidents, have been caught on film doing a little bowing every now and then.

Still, the incident with the King of Saudi Arabia is pretty clear.  The one with the Emperor of Japan is also pretty straightforward.

These serial incidents suggest that this is something more than just rare actions occurring within the diplomatic realm.  Coupled with his series of apology speeches, they suggest that he views American influence as being harmful in the world.

Rather than extending a hand to others in their quest for freedom and equality on the world stage, Mr. Obama seems a bit embarrassed that we enjoy those "blessings of liberty".

Two leaders bowing in a culturally appropriate ceremony isn't troublesome.  When one bows and the other doesn't return it, then we have grade A problem.

Mr. Obama's handlers should know that.  The fact that the problem hasn't gone away suggests that they and he do not.

Like A Fine Wine??


Posted on : 4/13/2010 10:40:00 PM | By : Dann | In : , ,

Will he get better with age?  It worked for President Truman.

Reason 3,984 Not To Listen to Paul Krugman.....About Anything


Posted on : 4/13/2010 09:16:00 AM | By : Dann | In : , , , ,

Mr. Krugman recently responded to those that are pointing out that almost half of all Americans pay no income tax.  It is a fact that roughly 47% of Americans pay no income taxes at all.  Yet what is the basis for Mr. Krugman's rejoinder?  Social Security [or FICA] taxes.

Apparently Mr. Krugman didn't do well in forensics class.  We are discussing income taxes not total taxes.

Mr. Krugman apparently didn't do well in basic economics class either.  I find that a bit surprising given the area of expertise for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize. 

The fact is that your total Social Security tax rate must include any Social Security benefits that you may receive.  Currently, the vast majority of retirees have a negative Social Security tax rate.  Put another way, they receive more in benefits during retirement than they paid in taxes over their working lifetime.

Special note for those of us under 50.  The Social Security system is $8trillion in the hole.  Don't expect to get the same sort of benefits when you retire.

Magical Photography


Posted on : 4/12/2010 09:07:00 PM | By : Dann | In : , ,

I don't know any better way to describe these images than pure magic.

Be warned, both images are NSFW and other places where prudes afraid of nipples might be looking over your shoulder.


Cut 'Em Off, They've Had Enough Already


Posted on : 4/12/2010 09:03:00 PM | By : Dann | In : ,

Why do we have an expensive system for collecting taxes?  Because an inexpensive one gives politicians less power.

Taxes, It Is Always About Taxes


Posted on : 4/12/2010 07:19:00 AM | By : Dann | In : , , ,

From Rasmussen comes this poll;

Sixty-six percent (66%) believe that America is overtaxed. Only 25% disagree.

Lower income voters are more likely than others to believe the nation is overtaxed.

Not surprisingly, the tax issue provokes a wide gap between the Political Class and Mainstream Americans. Eighty-one percent (81%) of Mainstream American voters believe the nation is overtaxed, while 74% of those in the Political Class disagree


Just 23% of voters favor a more active government with more services and higher taxes.
The poll reveals some interesting and erroneous beliefs about how much we pay in taxes as well as where it goes.  I think a lot of that can be explained by people being unwilling...or perhaps differentiate between a federal tax and a state tax.  If you are paying higher state taxes to fund a federally mandated program, then there really isn't much of a difference in which taxing authority you are satisfying.

Also in the poll, most of the polled people think you shouldn't have to pay more than 10% in federal taxes.  Given that we pay more than 15% just in FICA and Medicare taxes, 10% would be a much better figure.

Sadly unsurprising is the conclusion that most of our political class does not think that taxes are too high.  I guess taxes can never be too high when you are controlling and living off of the government teat.

Bullet Proof T-Shirt


Posted on : 4/11/2010 10:15:00 PM | By : Dann | In :

Made out of a common cotton t-shirt.  Pretty cool.

Except as one commenter noted, a single such shirt would probably result in a bullet wrapped in a bullet proof t-shirt embedded in your chest.  Layers will be required.

But it is still pretty cool.