Versatile Blogger Award

By Vladimir Brezina and Johna Till Johnson

We’ve received a Versatile Blogger Award! This award, which is passed on from blogger to blogger, honors “the quality of the writing, the uniqueness of the subjects covered, the level of love displayed in the words on the virtual page…(and)  the quality of the photographs and the level of love displayed in the taking of them.”

Composer in the Garden has passed the award to us, and we’re thrilled and honored by this recognition by a fellow blogger, particularly one whose own blog we follow and admire. And now we need to pass the award on in our turn…


“You really need to start a blog!” That’s what Johna’s friends told her after receiving the fifth or sixth emailed essay about her adventures paddling New York City’s waterways. It was good advice, and she actually tried for a bit. But without a unifying theme, the idea sputtered and died.

“We really need to start a blog!” That’s what Johna said to Vlad after their umpteenth paddling trip, documented by him in photos on Picasa and by her in the aforementioned emails.  We had gotten into the habit of posting our experiences to various kayaking mailing lists, but always as separate components. Peanut butter and chocolate… Fish and chips… Vlad’s photos and Johna’s essays?

A dynamic balance of opposing forces…

Thus was “Wind Against Current” born. From the start, we knew we wanted to expand the blog beyond kayaking to our many other interests. As a unifying theme, we thought of the often surprising results of opposing forces (hence the blog’s name) in kayaking, science, and life..

… an equilibrium…

Since its inception this past May, the blog has generated both joy and frustration (mostly joy). We’ve both enjoyed the creative aspects and the chance to work collaboratively. But we’ve struggled with finding time enough to post—blogs, like children, demand infinite amounts of care and attention.

… that is often unstable

But one of the greatest—and least expected—joys has been discovering the world of fellow bloggers, and realizing how many talented, creative, and insightful people are out there.

Apparently they reciprocate, because we’ve received this award from Composer in the Garden, multitalented artist Lynn Emberg Purse. We’ve loved her blog since discovering it a few months ago. In the words of the blogger who presented the award to Composer in the Garden, Kerry Mark Leibowitz of Lightscapes Nature Photography Blog (another blog that we admire):

Lynn Emberg Purse of Composer in the Garden Blog fits the “versatile” description, cubed.  Composer, singer, musician, photographer, writer, gardener…there are probably three or four things I’m leaving out.  Experience the wealth of brilliant original material from a variety of media on her blog; you won’t be sorry.

We wholeheartedly agree!

And here is what Composer in the Garden said about us:

Scientists and kayakers Vladimir Brezina and Johna Till Johnson of Wind Against Current have a unique point of view, that of kayaking in the New York Harbor. Their photographs are completely unique and they always have an interesting take on nature, science, technology, culture, etc. Don’t miss “Dance Your Ph.D”.

We’re thrilled and honored to receive this award for a blog that isn’t even a year old. Thanks, Composer in the Garden, for thinking of us!

Some folks may smile at the nature of this award, since its rules require each recipient to nominate other blogs. But here’s the thing: When you commit yourself to blogging regularly, you quickly realize how challenging it is to consistently come up with fresh, engaging content. And you find yourself really appreciating the folks who do. So we view this award as a “peer award”—and recognition by your peers, particularly peers whose work you admire and respect already, is the best possible kind of recognition.

The rules of the Versatile Blogger Award also require us to mention “seven things about ourselves.” Here goes:

  • We both grew up in multiple countries (Johna in the U.S., Italy, and Norway, Vlad in Czechoslovakia, Libya, and the U.K.).
  • We’re both interested in the nature of consciousness and the fundamental unknowability of other consciousnesses, as expressed in the seminal essay, “What Is It Like to Be a Bat?”
  • Cabbage goes with everything, from bacon to chocolate cake.
  • So does Lady Gaga.
  • Vlad particularly enjoys the music of Django Reinhardt.
  • Johna has joined the cult of  Crossfit, specifically the Crossfit Metropolis NYC sect.
  • Johna thinks in words, Vlad in pictures.

And now, we pass the Versatile Blogger Award on to other bloggers whose blogs we particularly admire. (Composer in the Garden and Lightscapes Nature Photography Blog are out, as they have the award already.) We’ve chosen:

  • Tugster: a waterblog. “Scenes from the sixth boro and gallivants beyond.”  Ever seen a tugboat sparkling in the East River on a sunny day and wondered, “What boat is that? I wonder where it’s going, and where it’s been?” Tugster elevates that wonder to the level of high art with his fotos and in-depth descriptions of the traffic in New York City’s waterways (“the sixth boro”).
  • Bowsprite. “A New York Harbor sketchbook”—and so much more! Talented, whimsical, and audacious, Bowsprite writes, sketches, and rhymes about all things nautical. Check out her delightfully poetic “New Year’s Log”—and note the many comments from working sea dogs. Bowsprite knows whereof she speaks: She herself crews on a working boat in New York Harbor, and her post “CoastLink Hamburg” is a comprehensive summary of the workings of the harbor…
  • Goethe Etc. And now for something entirely different: Goethe Etc. is an exploration by literary scholar and writer Goethe Girl of literature, art, literary and cultural ideas and theory, with an admixture of kayaking… and yes, Goethe. Be warned: It’s easy to fall into her blog and lose hours—even if you’re a nerdy engineer who’s not remotely interested in Goethe (or at least, didn’t think you were!). Vlad is reminded of his days, once upon a time, spent at MLA conventions…
  • Control Geek by John Huntington, Professor of Entertainment Technology at New York City College of Technology. (No, we are not making it up: This is his real job!). A truly versatile blog! “This site covers entertainment, technology, severe weather, photography and combinations of all of those things.” Not to mention kayaking around Long Island! Vlad especially appreciates the beautiful, crisp photos of various shows, decorative displays, and fireworks taken under difficult low-light conditions. And Johna, a former sound engineer, loves the technical discussion of lighting and sound.
  • The Eco and the Id, by Ailsa. “Inspired by nature. Lover of animals. Incurable wordsmith. Secret romantic.” Photographs of plants, animals, and natural scenes generally, many of them from around New York City. Often understated, but glowing with subtle color: breathtakingly beautiful.
  • Out walking the dog. Another New York City blog, by Melissa Cooper. Featured in The New York Times, and rightfully so! Ostensibly, the author just walks her dog every day on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.  But these walks provide ample opportunities for observations of plants, animals, and people, of their interactions comic or, sometimes, tragic. Told in photos and prose that often rises to the level of poetry.
  • Indulge – Travel, Adventure, & New Experiences. Last but not even remotely least: Lesley Carter’s energetic-to-the-point-of-hyperactive blog. “Traveling and extremes have encompassed my life for 30 years; from white-water rafting, skydiving, paragliding, bungee jumping, rock climbing, caving, swimming with dolphins, swimming with beluga whales, and base jumping, I’ve tried every ‘bucketlist’ adventure I could imagine.” And she writes about it winningly, with amazing photos—don’t miss the shot of Lesley rock-climbing in her wedding dress!

We hope that these bloggers will accept the Versatile Blogger Award in the spirit in which it is offered, and pass it on in their turn…

15 responses to “Versatile Blogger Award

  1. Congratulations on your Versatile Blogger Award!


    • Johna Till Johnson

      Disseminated—Thanks for the congrats! And for posting: It’s great to know about your blog.

      Except that my stomach muscles hurt from laughing at your Dr. Seuss post… and that creepy video…Other than that :-) thanks!


  2. Blush. . . thanks. Can’t wait to visit all the great blogs you mentioned.


  3. Johna Till Johnson

    Oh, please do! They are wonderful. And the process of selecting them was delightful… a bit like deciding to throw a party and realizing how many wonderful friends there are to invite!


  4. Thank you so very much, Vlad and Johna. I’m surprised and delighted to receive your nomination. So happy we have discovered each other’s blogs. You are very right in what you say about blogging as a community – and about a blog being as demanding as a child. It’s always time to write or edit or post or reply or research a topic or otherwise feed the baby. But I love maintaining Out Walking the Dog. The two primary reasons are probably: 1. Writing about nature and the city encourages me to look, and the more I look, the more I see – which renders life endlessly interesting. and 2. my readers for whom I am deeply grateful. So anyway, thank you and thank you again! Eventually I’ll respond on Out Walking the Dog…


    • “Feed the baby…” Now that you mention it, it occurs to me that Johna and I don’t think of working on the blog as feeding the baby. Rather, we call it “walking the dog” :-) Really! (And no, we don’t have a dog.)


  5. Thanks, guys. I hope you like my contribution today. A lot of work, however, as much as a posting on Goethe!


  6. Wow, thanks for the honor! Esteemed company indeed.


  7. Congratulations on the award…very well-deserved. In fact, had I been aware of this blog (which I learned about when Lynn posted her nominations) at the time that *I* was creating my own list, I have no doubt that I would have nominated you myself. Fortunately, it all came out in the wash.

    Congrats again!


  8. Pingback: Versatile Blogger Award, Take Two | Wind Against Current

  9. Pingback: It’s Awards Time Again! | Wind Against Current

  10. Pingback: Award Appreciation: We Thank Our Readers For… | Wind Against Current

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