Big weather; big new layers of risk.

We are avid kayakers who have paddled the waters of Georgian Bay for 30 years. There’s one big risk known to everyone there: the weather. A storm can come out of nowhere and beach you, blow you off course, capsize you, or bolt you with lightning. The risk is simple and one-dimensional, though it can be deadly. Our motto has been “any rock in a storm” and it’s saved our lives.

Then five years ago, we circumnavigated Manhattan by kayak. There, the risks were exponentially higher: there’s tidal risk, there’s current risk, there’s boat traffic risk and there’s even helicopter-wash risk. Suddenly, the risks had multiplied. New York made Georgian Bay feel like a safe warm bath.

Then this past week, we planned to paddle down the Hudson River for four days, starting at Hyde Park, home of the Roosevelt Presidential Library,  and landing in midtown Manhattan.

But the risks  today are exponentially higher than five years ago. The Hudson River has flooded because of unseasonable storms and the nearby sewers have overflowed into the river. Lightning was predicted on the water most every afternoon. These were risks we’d never encountered, let alone in combination (sewers disgorging into the flooded river you’re kayaking on?). So we decided to paddle down the north shore of Long Island Sound instead, then take a sharp right at the Bronx and head west to Manhattan. We did, but not without a crazy level of watchfulness.

All to say, it’s not just the risks of kayaking that have pyramided in the past few years; this most placid of water sports is a symbol of a risker world whose maelstroms await most every traveler.


1. Where eagles dare. The beauty of eating on the fly.

2. Alzheimer’s on the run? Most treatments have been billion-dollar failures. But a blood sample will be taken in Hong Kong this week that marks a treatment milestone. As The Times of London reported: “In the US, the Food and Drug Administration has just approved the first drug that clearly slows the progression of Alzheimer’s. At a recent conference in Amsterdam the full trial results of another drug that also slows progression will be revealed. But this blood sample, from a patient whose name we will probably never learn, will be just as big a milestone. Because afterwards, that patient will receive a risk score, telling them the likelihood that they have Alzheimer’s.”

And on the subject of growing old, the demographics of the entire world are aging, with huge consequences.

3. How awful a writer is Dan Brown? You may recall that name from The Da Vinci Code  about Opus Dei that’s sold 80 million copies. Lest you think there’s a connection between great writing and great sales, read British gadfly Clive James’ scorching review of the heroic absurdity of Dan Brown. As James says: “The less his talent, the more amazing his achievement.”

4. Remove those brown M&Ms! As The Browser notes:A rider in Van Halen’s touring contracts, demanding dishes of M&Ms with all brown M&Ms removed, was soon being studied at business schools: The rider was seen as a “canary” that signalled whether a venue had read and respected the 53-page contract. Smart, but not true. The rider was a display of power.”

5. Rock-Paper-Scissors is rigged. The outcome is neither random nor arbitrary. The savvy players know they are playing the opponent and not the game.”

6. Why do some strikes work? One reason is that the strike leaders can make their case clear. Watch Fran Drescher do that for America’s actors and writers, extemporaneously. Speaking of women and power, Kathrine Switzer asked: “Don’t you wonder why there is no 21-stage Tour de France for women?” It’s complex.

7. Cast your eyes here. First, some great treks. Then, the cycles of nature. Finally, the fruits of capitalism.

8. Did the Anthropocene begin just west of Milton? It’s one thing for Canadian Geographic to report on the work of an international team of 75 geologists who claim the Anthropocene — the epoch when humans began irrevocably shaping the planet’s fate – started in the 1950s in Crawford Lake, just west of Milton. It’s another for The Washington Post to report on the consequences of this discovery:

“Digging deep into a humble lake in Canada, scientists found a spot on Earth like no other — and a record that could redefine our history of the planet.”

9. Tired of life? We’re not talking depression here, or even suicide. Just a sense you’re old and there’s no one or nothing to live for. It seems to be growing. There’s even a European Understanding Tiredness of Life in Older People Research Network.

Being tired of life is not a valid reason to seek Medical Assistance in Dying, though intractable depression and advanced Alzheimer’s are as part of “Track 2” where your death is not foreseeable as it is in “Track 1.”

The latest MAiD statistics in Ontario show that cancer remains by far the biggest reason for requesting medical assistance in dying (63%) and that the overwhelming majority of Ontarians who ask for MAiD (88%) are white.

10. The theme was mentorship; the message was leadership. This week, James Cameron flew to the Royal Canadian Geographical Society in Ottawa to pay tribute to his mentor of half a century, Dr. Joe MacInnis. CTV News broadcast their hour-long conversation about leading and following and getting big things done – and caring for each other. A remarkable and close encounter, much like their very deep dives.

11. What I’m liking. I’d never heard of Chris Blattman until this week. A colleague thought I would like his blogs on writing. So how did I miss this Canadian economist who makes presentations to the Joint Chiefs of Staff and writes books on the roots of war?




Doing that in BC’s fabled Great Bear Rainforest…aboard the National Geographic Venture…on a Lindblad Expedition.

For more information, click here.

Bob Ramsay

Here are the other trips RamsayTravels is hosting in the coming months.

In order of appearance…

October 2-10, 2023 — Bicycling and the Kardamyli Literary Festival in Greece.

February 25 to March 9, 2024 – Sailing off to the Pacific

May 29-June 5, 2024 — Sail down the west coast of Italy, from Nice and Genoa, to Naples and Amalfi.

Just e-mail Bob Ramsay at if you have questions.

Thanks for coming this far with us.

Bob Ramsay

Share this post

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Subscribe to my Free Weekly Omnium-Gatherum Blog:

  • Every Saturday the Omnium-Gatherum blog is delivered straight to your InBox
  • Full archive
  • Posting comments and joining the community
  • First to hear about other Ramsay events and activities

Get posts directly to your inbox

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Sign Up for Updates!

Get news from Ramsay Inc. in your inbox.

Email Lists
Email Lists(Required)