Today I taught kindergarten

Today I taught 22 kindergartners about the thawing arctic. These children are mostly 6-years-old. Symbolically, the route that ArcticRow rowed was frozen until 6 years ago. A clear example of global warming. These kindergartners just completed a lesson on the Arctic.

My companies’ non-profit arm, the VMware Foundation, provided lunch bags to demonstrate the lesson of reuse+recycle. When you’re six years old, lunch bags double as hats.

Jasmine Sheldon (teacher at left above) and I improvised activities on the thawing Arctic.

  • We used inflatable globes to visualize the arctic ocean
  • We drew an outline of the 30-foot Arctic Rowboat in chalk on the ground
  • We sat in the chalk-shaped rowboat and mimicked rowing faster to escape polar bears and dodge ice bergs
  • We asked them to use reusable lunch bags instead of single-use bags–a tangible action

Here are pictures to give a sense for my experience.

“We rowed an ocean that was frozen 6 years ago.”

“The Arctic Ocean is here.”


“What Arctic animals will be hurt if the ice melts?”


Here, Ella Zimman helps me hand-out VMware Foundation re-usable lunch bags. Her father recruited me into VMware.

“Our rowboat was shaped like this.”

“What does rowing look like?”


“If the ice melts, where will the seals go?”

A shout-out to the people at The VMware Foundation (Nicola, Jesse and Betsy). They are super nice, support VMware employees that volunteer in the community and they donated the reusable VMware Foundation lunch bags. Thank you!

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Launching the Lifthrasir Rowboat

Last night we launched the refurbished Lifthrasir rowboat into the flat evening waters of the San Francisco Bay. The Lifthrasir had been in the boat shop since April for a strip, overhaul, and varnish. The launch happened after 3 hours of last-minute touch-up and assembly work by 20 members of the Dolphin Club Rowing Club, including my friend Jason Zanetti and me.

A bit of history on the boat, the Lifthrasir was donated to the Dolphin Club in January 2010 by three members (TOppendheimer, PDrino, J/PSancimino) including the wooden double Viking class boat itself, 3 sets of oars, trailer and miscellaneous equipment/gear. She was built in the 1970s by Jeremy Fisher-Smith, who built all the Viking class wooden single and double oar boats at the Dolphin Club and Southend Club. Jeremy is the builder of the Thor wooden single Viking class boat that I was seen rowing in the previous SF Chronicle photograph.

It was rare to be involved in the launching of an overhauled vintage viking-class wooden rowboat. The boat wright, Jon Bielinski and a cadre of regular boatnight members, have worked on this boat overhaul since April. It was inclusive that they chose to share this occasion with all of us. For our part, Jason and I were charged by the boat wright to sand the gunwale, remove the excess caulk from the oar locks along the gunwale, affix the foot stretchers to the boat, and help carry the boat out of the boat room and into the water.

Wooden rowboats need to be overhauled every 5 to 10 years, depending on use. The picture at upper right is taken from the first overhaul back in 1985.

Here are some photographs from last night. There was also a dinner afterwards by chef Mattie, which I do not have pictures of, but will soon.

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Sunday SF Chronicle

I went rowing this weekend to watch the Blue Angels and the America’s Cup sailing race. The SF Chronicle was out on the town, snapped a picture, asked my name, and put Tenzing and me in the Sunday print and online edition. Thankfully the “spills” on the headline is in reference to one of the racing sailboats, and not my rowboat.


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