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How to tie a bowline knot and other useless information

Thinking about taking up a new outdoor activity? Here’s a helpful guide to get you started: 


1. If you’re the paddler in the front (e.g., bow), shout instructions to the person in the back (stern), such as, “Watch out for that rock!”

2. If you’re in the stern, yell back, “WHICH one?! There’s a million blankety-blank rocks all around us!”

3. Bow paddler: “THAT one! What are you, @#$*!! blind?”

4. The canoe capsizes.

5. Never speak to the other paddler again.


1. First, grunt and grimace while pushing against a telephone pole for 45 minutes while stretching hammies, glutes and quads to impress passersby.

2. Next, place one foot in front of the other. Repeat.

3. Move your feet more rapidly if you want to go faster.

4. Hydrate (formerly called “drink”).

5. That’s about it.


1. Wear fluorescent Lycra shorts, shirt, socks and underwear.

2. Stick one of those blinky things to the back of your bike.

3. Attach another one to the front.

4. Practice the barely perceptible Biker Wave for greeting fellow cyclists.

5. Upgrade all components every week and replace the entire bike once a month.


1. Face forward in the cockpit.

2. Use both ends of the paddle in alternating strokes.

3. Stay upright.

4. Learn to roll (hint: the flipping over part is easy).

5. Stay with your boat if you do turn over, unless it’s heading for Niagara Falls.


1. Address the ball. (Fans of the vintage “Honeymooners” sitcom: Peer down, like Art Carney, and proclaim, “Hello there, ball!”)

2. Aim for a barely visible flag fluttering on a green some five miles distant.

3. Swing.

4. Repeat 14,736 times until your ball rolls in the hole.

5. Fling your clubs into a water hazard.


1. Learn how to tie a bowline; when someone else attempts this knot, snatch the line and snarl, “Not THAT way, you idiot!”

2. Memorize the following nautical commands: Hard-a-lee! Coming about! Reef the mainsail! Hoist the jib!

3. Shout them randomly.

4. Refrain from blowing an air horn directly into the skipper’s ear.

5. Red right return means you should be on the right side of a red buoy when re-entering the harbor (or is it the other way around? No matter, the bigger boat has the right of way, usually.)


1. Cast your line in the water.

2. Stand on a pier for 11 hours.





1. Use a trekking pole to clear the path of anyone blocking your way.

2. Don’t step on snakes or dog poop.

3. When in doubt about which trail leads to a campground with tent platforms, clean drinking water and outhouses, and which one leads to a mosquito-infested, green-briar swamp, let someone else decide, so you can’t be blamed later for making the wrong choice.

4. Avoid trying to pet the antlers of a bellowing bull moose during mating season.

5. Offhand, can’t think of anything else.


1. Decide whether to use cotton, linen, hemp, or jute twine.

2. Start out with a simple project, such as a friendship bracelet.

3. Pick a pattern or design your own … Oooh, wait! Forget that — I got distracted and thought I was working on my column for Modern Needlepoint Magazine.


1. Tie a firm knot on your swim trunks.

2. Breathe when your head is ABOVE water.

3. Switch to the backstroke if you’re worried about spotting a great white shark, alligator or snapping turtle lurking below.

4. Look both ways before crossing a shipping lane.

5. Warning! Some natatoriums use a telltale dye that’s activated if you pee in the pool.

Standup paddleboarding

1. Before buying your first SUP, try standing up on an ironing board in your laundry room.

2. Put lots of pillows on the floor.

3. Practice the preferred paddleboard pose — envision Washington crossing the Delaware, not inebriated mariner precariously balanced on a bowsprit.

4. Drive everywhere—– even across the Mohave — with your board strapped to the roof rack.

5. When you finally do launch, get used to being passed by toddlers with water wings, octogenarians on inner tubes and waders along the shore.

Gardening (Part I)

1. Clear an area of all competing vegetation — cut down trees; rip up roots; dig up weeds, vines and bushes.

2. Construct a fence around the perimeter to deter deer, rabbits and woodchucks. Drive in stakes to block access by moles.

3. Test the soil to determine its alkalinity/acidity and apply potash or lime as needed.

4. Use a hoe to cultivate the soil, a hard rake to remove small stones and a prybar to excavate larger rocks.

5. Plant seeds, following instructions on the package regarding depth and spacing.

Gardening (Part II)

1. Thin as directed after shoots appear.

2. Apply mulch.

3. Water and weed regularly.

4. Check frequently for slugs, beetles and other destructive pests.

5. Harvest! Enjoy your crop of two tomatoes, a cucumber and 437 zucchinis.








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