Monday, July 25, 2016

Water Skiing $$$ 🎓 💪💪💪

Water skiing is very different from snow skiing.   The power comes from a motor that someone else is controlling, rather than gravity.  Unlike kite boarding, it takes almost no skill, for similar reasons.  You strap your feet to a board, but that strap is designed to come off when you fall.

That means you don't really control where your go or how fast you go - which means you don't have to learn anywhere near as much.  Want to go faster, yell "Faster" to the pilot.  Going too fast?  You can always let go.   The only basics are how to stand up and start doing it, which you can cover in a single lesson.  Then it's mostly about learning how to do to fancy stuff and having fun.  Barefoot (requires a higher speed), backwards, jumping, and similar tricks all take a lot more training.  You do have some control about where you go moving your weight and edge, like skiing.  But if you mess up you will still go where the boat pulls you, no matter what.  Also, there are no trees and much fewer people to hit.

Wake-boarding is a variant of water skiing that I have not tried.  You strap a wider,  shorter board is strapped to your feet and lock it in so it doesn't come off when you fall.  It is supposed to be much harder than water skiing.  You don't have to worry about your feet going in different directions, but controlling whether you go left or right has to do with leaning forward and back - like snow boarding or skate boarding.
You can go as slow as 13 mph (but only if you are the size of a child - minimum speed is determined by your weight) to as fast as 100 mph).

Water skiing is not cheap - you need to pay for a boat and pilot, as well as the gear.  Tipping is recommended.   But as I said, it's much easier than snow skiing.   It is still a work out - you are being pulled by your arms.

It's more of a young person's sport than an older person.  It is definitely exercise.   Women and men both do it. Kids can do it.

Wear a life jacket, even if you can swim - you can get very tired. 

Helmets - most people do not use them (unlike jet skiing).  Mainly because whiplash is more common than direct hits and helmets can make whiplash worse, not better.   With wake boarding and water skiing, you almost always have time to let go and slow down.  Also you are behind the boat, which clears the way in front.  It's different from jet skiing where you might directly crash into something, and or hit your head on the ski directly.

They do sell some helmets for wake boarding, but I have not seen any people wear them water skiing.  I do not feel the need to wear one, but you can always ask someone that knows a lot more about it than I do.

I tried Water Skiing when I was a child at some long forgotten lake.  But you can try it at Lake Mahopac, not far from New York City:

Monday, July 18, 2016

Shoot a Gun $ 🎓 💪

In NYC your fire arms options are limited.  You need a license to fire any hand gun.  But rifles are another matter.  You can exercise your second amendment rights with a long gun fairly easily. 

Note, I believe that this general rule (if not the specifics of how it is created) is a good idea.   Almost all shooting deaths in America come from hand guns (Picture a mugging, a suicide, and a kid playing with a hand gun - compare what happens if you replace it with a long gun), while almost all legitimate uses of fire arms work BETTER with a long gun (hunting, walking safely through a crime ridden neighborhood, defending your home from an invading army).  If it were up to me, rifles, silencers, large clips, and even 'convertible rifles' (weapons that are easily modifiable into fully automatic versions) would all be easy to obtain with no little if any background checks - but hand guns would require a federal license to carry (but that license would by definition allow concealed carry).   Sorry about the political rant, back to my review.  Back to the fun.

Firing a gun is pretty easy for anyone to do  (hitting what you aim at is another matter).   It doesn't require much strength.  It is more of a male thing.  It can be a bit of a rush - definitely gets the adrenaline pumping.   Larger calibers have significant kickback - be prepared for it, or get hurt.  It also is loud - you will want hearing protection, but a good shooting range will provide it.

Kids are not OK - sorry, in NY, that's the rule.  There have been real cases in the US where the gun was too much for the kid and people got killed.   Wait till they are old and strong enough to handle it.

The price is at the high end of cheap, but still less than a night on the town.   Classes are reasonable, an if you love it, about the only real expense is purchasing the weapon, bullets are cheap.

I went to:

Note, this link takes you directly to the rifle sign up page.   First time users pay $75 and get a safety class.  After that it costs less than $50 per visit to the range.

If you want more, you can also sign up for a class at Orvis for 'wing shooting.'   It's on my list, but I haven't gotten around to trying them out yet.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Sign Language Classes $$$ 🎓🎓🎓 💪

Learning Sign Language is hard, expensive (mainly because it takes so long, the individual classes are moderately priced), but is not very physically taxing.

It is definitely social.  If you use a group class, you have people to practice with.  Even if you don't, the eventual idea is to talk to other people.

It's hard to know how many people know ASL, but it is the 3rd most requested translator language for the courts.  Some people believe there are about 2 million Americans that sign using "American Sign Language" ASL, which would make it the 4th most popular language in America (English, Spanish, Chinese, then ASL).    ASL was created by people that knew the french version (LSA) and the sign language used by many other countries is derived from ASL.  So you might be able to make yourself understood by deaf French, Jamaicans, Nigerians, etc.

But more importantly, the people that speak ASL do not have as large a community.  Most big cities have Spanish speaking neighborhoods and "China towns", but ASL users often have few people to talk to.   Most Spanish and Chinese speakers also speak some English, but quite a few ASL can not hear at all.   All of which means that if you do find someone that speaks ASL it's kind of like running into a fellow American while visiting a foreign country.  You may suddenly make a new friend who has so much to talk to you about.

But it is a real commitment in time and money.   You can't expect to pick it up in just a month. It takes a lot of practice as well.   Worse, if you stop before you become good, you likely will end up forgetting everything you learn.

Sign Language classes are gender neutral, though my class was a bit more female than male.  There are no age limits, the young and old can take them.

I took classes here:

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Kite Boarding $$$ 🎓🎓🎓 💪💪💪

Kite boarding is a sport where you take a giant, 10+ meter wide kite, connect it to your chest with a harness, then step onto a large board (think boogie board size, not surf board) and have the wind pull you at speeds that can exceed 55 mph (50 knots, 90 km/h ).  If you are a beginner/taking lessons, you might take a boat off shore to where it is easy and safer to start.  But good kiters can start from the beach.

It is expensive, difficult and hard on the body.  It doesn't take a huge amount of muscle, but it does take a lot of stamina.   You can't just take it easy when you get tired - particularly if you find yourself out a mile off shore.  How fast you go depends more on the wind speed than on how hard you want it.  In most sports the difference between a pro and an amateur is just as much about willing to give it your all as it is about how much your "all" is.  Not so with Kite boarding - you have to give it your all, or quit, at least when you are a beginner.  As you get better you use less muscle and flow with the wind, rather than fight it.   In addition it is a full body workout - legs, back and arms.   As such, if you aren't young, healthy, and in shape, be prepared to be totally exhausted by lunch time - as in lie down and take a nap.  I did.

It is also rather expensive - it's not just the gear:  board, floating sunglasses, kite, ropes, harness and pump (the kites have inflated tubes on the edges to hold the right shape).  You need a water resistant shirt (not cotton) to protect your chest from the harness and sunburn.   I liked having water shoes on my feet - particularly when on a rocky beach area.   You will definitely need some classes to start at the very least.  There is also the travel.   Not everyone lives near appropriate locations and the wind is fickle.  Finally you may need to pay someone with a boat to hang out and/or save you if the wind doesn't cooperate.  

That said, it is a TON of fun.    I tried it in water, but you can also try it on snow (snow kiting).  Obviously summer water is warmer than snow, but you have to do more work - it's harder to start it up as the board goes under the water and you have to hold it in the right shape to start.  Snow kiting is less work to for that reason, if a bit colder.  Also, your head doesn't go under water, which for some people is a big plus.

Jumping is fun - but if the wind picks up suddenly you may find yourself trying it out before you are ready.   Experience people can do a ton of interesting tricks - my teacher would literally jump over small island reef that had a a bonfire set up on it.  It was pretty amazing site.

It's more male than female - say 2 men for every woman.   It's hard but not impossible to take it up after 40 - the stamina issue.   Mostly 30's - 20 year olds don't have the money/time, aside from the professional teachers.  But if you have the money, a  teenager can easily do it.

I took kite boarding lessons on vacation at the "Pro Center Kiteboarding School", Union Island, in the Grenadines.  The wind there is near constant 24/7, 365 days a year.  If you go during the prime season, it can be a fun party.

But it is a long trip (near Venezuela) and requires you to fly in on a small aircraft, so it is not easy to get to.   There are a lot more convenient places, including Cape Hatteras in North Carolina.