Humanist Ingenuity September 4, 2007

Humanist Ingenuity

This cracked me up.

Duncan Crary, director of communications for the Institute for Humanist Studies, and Alison Bates, senior campus organizer for the Secular Student Alliance, were featured in Albany, NY’s Times Union newspaper because of their innovative way of getting to work:


There’s even a special name for what they do:

While most Capital Region commuters are rolling over to hit the snooze button, Crary, with the help of his friend and office mate Alison Bates, drags his 17-foot-long green Tripper canoe out of his backyard, straps a two-wheeled carrier onto the bottom of the boat and starts pulling it toward the river.

They have until 9 a.m. to get to work in downtown Albany and they aim to “canoet” all the way there.

No, that isn’t a typo. Several times this summer, Crary and Bates have commuted from Troy to Albany via canoe. They’ve dubbed it “canoeting.”

Taking a canoe will add more than 2 hours to a regular motorized commute, but Crary and Bates prefer spending hours paddling on the water to cramming themselves into a confined metal box on wheels and jockeying for position on the highway. They do commute by car, especially during bad weather, and they also bicycle.

While the pair both work for progressive outfits, “at the end of the day, the two of us have desk jobs in downtown Albany,” Crary said. For him, spending four hours sitting in a canoe makes those eight hours at the desk a bit more bearable.

“I would be enthusiastic about sky diving into work,” [Bates] said. “And in the winter, I would cross-country ski to work.”

The pair make it into Albany just before 9 a.m. Instead of locking the canoe up by the water, they decide to strap it back onto the carrier and push it up to their Howard Street offices. On the way, they encounter plenty of amused and confused looks. Surely, they are the only ones who came to downtown that morning via the water.

For them, the stiff arms, blistered hands and soggy pant legs are little price to pay to avoid showing up at work already stressed from the rat race.

I’ve said before that it’s not very often you see stories about atheists in the media that don’t involve a lawsuit or anti-religious gripe.

But I’ll admit this is an angle I’ve never even considered 🙂

The non-religious aspect of their jobs is simply an afterthought to a really nifty human interest story. It’s not even an issue. Just the way it should be.

[tags]atheist, atheism, humanism, canoet[/tags]

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Darfasti

    That is impossibly cool. I wish I could do the same thing.

  • Susan

    Gosh, here I am in Schenectady and I didn’t even see that article. I should read the paper more (instead of getting all my news from atheist blogs 🙂 )

  • Jen

    Wow! I sometimes canoe of vacation; its never seemed that fun to me. Not to mention the bugs, the possibility of falling in, and the splashing on your suit.

    …And they might want to use lifevests. Admittedly, I have no idea how deep the water is, but it can never hurt to use them.

  • Wow, that’s awesome.

    Jen: perhaps they don’t have the lifevests on because the photographer thought they’d detract from the picture?

  • Jen,

    …And they might want to use lifevests

    I (Duncan…from the photograph) always have one life preserver on board for every person in the canoe. That is the state law in New York. The law does not require you to wear your life preserver at all times and sometimes we choose not to…like when we’re being photographed in the newspaper where the work clothes make the gag.

    You can see part of the blue and black life vest next to my knee in the photograph that Hemant posted. If you had clicked the link to the article that Hemant provided there are three photographs and in the second one you can clearly without out a single shred of doubt see the purple and turquoise life jacket in the picture.

    It’s ironic that your post accusing people of being irresponsible is itself careless and judgmental.

  • stogoe

    I’d make some bad pun about their “Tripper canoe and Tyler, too”, but that would just be lame.

  • HappyNat

    Wow! I sometimes canoe of vacation; its never seemed that fun to me. Not to mention the bugs, the possibility of falling in, and the splashing on your suit.
    …And they might want to use lifevests. Admittedly, I have no idea how deep the water is, but it can never hurt to use them.

    Wow Jen, what a downer. You must be fun on vacation 🙂

  • Jen

    Duncan- I am sorry. I admit I didn’t click on the link, nor did I notice the corner of the one by your feet. Opps. I just mentioned it because, at 2am last night, I was going to make some sort of joke relating to “There’s no god and therefore they can’t depend on him to rescue them” but somehow that got lost. I was not trying to judge you, and I didn’t realize the picture was staged.

    Happy Nat-
    I like canoeing once a year on vacation, but I am glad I don’t have to do it every day, because then something fun turns into a lot of a work. Plus I hate bugs. Thats all.

  • I didn’t realize the picture was staged.

    No Jen, the photo wasn’t “staged.” That’s really us, doing our real activity in real time.

    Accusing a professional news photographer of “staging” a photo is a serious charge in the industry, and not one that should be made lightly.

    But as the saying goes, never attribute to malice what can be adequately explained by ignorance.

  • Jen

    You are right, I meant “you were aware the picture was being taken” not “you aren’t really doing that”. I am stupid (eye roll).

    But seriously, I am a college educated, job holding, tax paying adult, so it would really be nice if you would stop acting like I am an idiot.

  • stogoe

    Who all thinks Jen should maybe just stop digging?

    *raises hand*

  • Polly


    I don’t think there was anything judgmental or ignorant about your comments. In addition, I think you’re being gracious in your response.

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