Category

Food for thought

Contrast

By Climbing, Food for thoughtNo Comments

The first time I picked up a camera, it wasn’t called a “phone.” It had weird numbers all over it, and when you got near the end of a roll of film, you were never sure if you’d get a free extra shot or two before having to rewind the roll and get it developed. Now we’ve all got cameras in our pockets, and software on those cameras for image editing. Photographs can be awesomely powerful. Indeed, they can change history. The Vietnam War is, to me, an incredible example of how a few images can tell a deeper, more visceral story than the finest wordsmiths. There are plenty of other examples throughout history. Another that leaps to mind is the work of Dorothea Lange in Manzanar. What are the first sliders you tweak when editing an image? We all have our own workflows, but it’s likely that “Contrast” comes to mind. What a concept, eh? The farther apart we pull the luminance values of highlights and shadows, the more distinction we get between objects in an image. Conversely, an image with very high contrast (how about that photo of Tommy jugging on El Cap during golden hour, while Kevin sits on the portaledge scrolling Pornhub Instagram?) grabs the attention a certain way, and only after some time spent with the image can the viewer begin to integrate the light and dark portions into an interconnected scene. There has been much contrast in the world lately. Contrast is good, because…

Read More

Love and Laughter in the Time of Corona

By Ethics, Food for thought, Trip JournalNo Comments

So, I woke up the other morning, had some coffee, sauteed some kale and garlic and eggs, and watched the president address the nation. Could someone please help me figure out why the news media, in this critical time, actually directs questions to Trump? How much time have we wasted digesting his bullshit, filtering the garbage to arrive at the inevitable conclusion, time and again, that he says only what will might improve his standing as compared with 5 seconds ago? The wife just helpfully said that it may help to think of Trump as a jester. He’s a rodeo clown, with full make-up, doing a TeleTubbies’ interpretive dance of what a toddler in a Serious Adult suit might behave like (in another blow to the economy, Trump obviates the existence of satire; many hilarious people are suddenly destitute, trading cheap jokes for smack in back alleys). Nobody knows anything in this crazy, crazy world, but I tell ya what, I know a perfect slab of rock when I see one. All photos were taken before the Inyo County Sherriff put the ol’ kibbosh on the klettergartens. To sum up the day, I finished breakfast and Trump finished talking. The stock market started to glissade again, and had to self-arrest. Then Trump was asked if he thought that we’d be seeing the effects of Covid for 12-18 months, like all of the world’s experts have been suggesting, and he flatly denied that it was possible. He was asked about his…

Read More

The Invisible War

By Food for thought, Staying HealthyNo Comments

Yesterday, the Imperial College released its report on COVID-19. The report reveals massive, frightening predictions – underscoring the importance of the actions we are taking to prevent the anticpiated spread of this new virus. I’ve been spending the last few days going back to my public health roots and digging deep into the novel coronavirus. And I felt compelled to share the points I found salient from the above mentioned report and otherwise. Compelled enough to write my first blog post in…years? Anyway… COVID-19 is not the flu. It is most closely related to SARS. The mortality rate is lower than SARS but it spreads significantly faster. This is why there is such a strong worry that the public will not take it seriously enough. Other names for COVID-19 that you might see: novel coronavirus, coronavirus 2, SARS-CoV-2, HCoV-19. If we treat it like the flu, or go about business as usual: 80% of Americans would get the disease and an estimated 4 million will die. In a span of 3 months. We [the world] have failed at containment so we have two options: mitigation and suppression. Mitigation = isolating all symptomatic cases in the US, quarantining families of those cases, and social distancing for those over 70. Suppression = isolating symptomatic cases and quarantining their family members, social distancing for the whole population plus preventing all public gatherings which includes shutting down the majority of workplaces, bars and dine-in restaurants, closing schools and universities. Mitigation is not enough. We…

Read More

Vote, And I’ll Give You Boulders

By Ethics, Food for thought, MusingsNo Comments

We voted, y’all. If you send me proof that you’ve voted, I will tell you where these boulders are. Seriously. Hit us up @thervproject. November 6th. Extra boulders for you if you can drag a millennial to the polls with you. I spent 90 minutes with my 6 different ballots, reading Balletopedia and Bay Area newspaper op-eds to try to figure out if Yes or No or she or he will improve life for the majority of people I care about. There were some tricky choices. Candidates with similar positions, bills with names that sound like things I like but with provisions that I don’t like, that kind of thing. All in all, though, it was pretty damn painless. I voted in California. I’m a bit jealous of people who have an opportunity to cast a vote against, say, Ted Cruz, or Ron De Santis, or extremely-thinly-veiled-white-nationalist Steve King, or another one of these pathetic, ugly-souled power-suckers with the moral compass of a rabid possum. My most satisfying vote had to do with getting rid of the twice-yearly time shift known as Daylight Savings. It’s not that I want the Democrats to win. I do, but only incidentally. What I’m really hoping for, what we should all hope for, is a strong statement by the American People that we reject the shittiness of the past 2 years. That we stand by the free press, by the minority groups, by the victims of domestic terror. That we give a shit about…

Read More

It Pays to Pay Attention

By Adventure, Food for thought, MusingsOne Comment

Wisdom is everywhere, and what we know is exactly what keeps us from being wise. Ain’t that a paradox! If the goal of learning is knowledge, then how can knowledge prevent us from learning?  I don’t know, but here’s a story. I certify that the events contained herein are true and factual, to the best of my recollection. Although, frankly, one should never let the truth get in the way of a good story. The year was 2011, the address was 1015 Folsom in San Francisco, and the time was approaching midnight. Several folk, myself included, had organized a camp for Burning Man called Camp UP, which included a rather large bouldering wall, and we were caught in the grips of a multi-splendored culture of psychic exploration (read that as you wish). Most of the core group of Camp UP was selflessly partying in the name of raising funds for another Burning Man camp, Opulent Temple. Most nightclub veterans know the importance of staying hydrated, particularly on a hot summer’s night. The hard part can be choosing between dancing and the procurement of the necessary element of water. Savvy partiers that we were, Zack and I had gotten plastic water bottles from the bar earlier in the evening, which of course could be filled from the taps in the restrooms. A brief note on nightclub restroom attendants: They’re almost always there, they’re almost always polite but irritating at the beginning of the night, and they’re almost always among your favorite people…

Read More

Blog Renewal

By Food for thought, Musings, Stuff We're Psyched OnNo Comments

I want to take it back to the old school. Now, this ain’t a paean about the good ol’ days when men were what society said they were and women were their service animals. I’m not calling for some rose-tinted return to a legendary epoch of “grit and toughness” that never existed. I’m thinking only in terms of social media. When I say old school, I’m talking about a handful of years ago, when 8a’s website only a outdated by a decade or so, and the “#” symbol was still just a tic tac toe board. I want to revisit the blogging era. Before Instagram existed, we followed climbers’ blogs. My RSS feed included the blogs of Jimmy Webb, Alex Johnson, Paul Robinson, Woods Family Climbs (yes that Woods), Ethan Pringle, Dave Graham, James Lucas, Angie Payne, and Nalle Hukkadyno. (Does anyone miss Climbing Narc, like I do?) Every few days or so, I’d visit Google Reader and see if any sick sends, inspiring stories, or rad videos had been added. Blogs forced both the author and the reader to engage just a little bit deeper than today’s pic-vid-caption platforms, but were informal enough that typos and poor grammar didn’t detract. Moreover, a blog post is also a webpage. It was easy for the author to include all kinds of links, references, and photos that either added to the story, or added to the author’s personality. The blogging era was a time when people were less afraid to post something…

Read More

The Muddy Waters of Trailer Insurance

By Food for thought, Trip Journal4 Comments

We haven’t been able to leave Berkeley yet, solely because we don’t have our trailer insured yet. Whether it’s advising you on important coverage decisions or answering any questions you may have, motor-trade-insurances.co.uk can help Since we’ve run into significantly more trouble than we imagined trying to get our trailer insured, I figured I’d write down what we’ve learned so other people might avoid the same pitfalls in the future. The details: We now have a converted cargo trailer. The trailer is a 2002 Pace American cargo trailer  (14-feet total in length, including the nose, and 8-feet wide). Although it was already converted into a livable space before we bought it, we completely gutted it to fit our needs. What’s the problem, you ask? AAA: we went to AAA first because we’ve been with them for years. Since we had an itemized spreadsheet of everything we bought for the trailer – they said they could insure it, if it was stationary at our home address for over half the year. Well, that’s not going to happen. Next… Progressive: they are the #1 major RV insurance company, but a converted cargo trailer is a dealbreaker for them. At this point we asked — who should we call next?! Farmer’s Insurance: a quick no – because it’s a converted cargo trailer. The problem, it turns out, is these major companies will happily insure a travel trailer that you have customized – but it has to have started as a travel trailer. The…

Read More

Pissed Off

By Adventure, Food for thought, Musings, Trip JournalNo Comments

I’m pissed, y’all. And I’m trying to process it, so bear with me. The plan, in a nutshell, was to drive around like the heroes of Rampage and climb some rocks. In doing so, we would be diving deep into the beating heart of America with a sturdy American truck, trying to get a read on what makes this country tick. Travel, they say, is a brilliant teacher, and I was eager to learn how well a lifetime of liberal indoctrination had prepared me for getting by in the so-called flyover states. And let me tell you, I wish I could distill the galaxy of lessons learned during our well-nigh 6 years of RV Projecting. It would take volumes…not to mention every wild sunset, the 4AM fuel stops, epic summits, unforgettable successes and failures, friendships of every duration and intensity, gut-dissolving tragedies…aww heck. Look at me. I got to ramblin’ again. Point is, I’ll die one of these days, but with a smile on my face. I won’t feel like the good Lord gypped me. The adventure has been a good one for us, and it’s not what I’m pissed about. See, we returned to my parents’ place in the Bay Area for Thanksgiving and some restful family time. The newspaper comes every morning, which is weird for us…and I’m pretty pissed at what I’m reading. We have a dysfunctional government being run by saboteurs. Public things–lands, services, schools, discourse–are disappearing faster than the coral reefs I used to study….

Read More

El Cap is Big and Cars Suck

By Climbing, Food for thought, MusingsNo Comments

El Capitan is big. I am qualified to say this, as I’ve spent countless hours standing about a half-mile from the base of this greater-than-half-mile tall sheet of granite. To look up and see the top, you must look past 45° above the horizontal. It feels unnecessarily big, almost rudely big. It’s like a shark, or love, or a drug trip: all the documentaries, books, and TED talks in the world will leave you no better prepared to experience it firsthand. A part of you is upset because no one told you it’d be this big. El Capitan is so big that our problems become equally small; they nearly disappear. It’s as though we’re all unified by the challenge of understanding the absurdly big thing in front of us. Tourists will approach and ask one or two of the “standard questions*,” and more often than not we will wind up standing next to each other in silence. Had the inventors of our language, the Shakespeares and the Websters and the like, visited Yosemite Valley, we might have the lexicon to discuss it properly. Or not…its bigness may have overwhelmed our wordsmiths as well. I don’t, however, hold the English language responsible for our inability to come to grips with El Capitan’s size. The fault lies with our culture, and its mandate to categorize and value anything that can be named. El Capitan has no value and defies categorization. It is art, it is love, it is the solar eclipse, it…

Read More

A Jumbo Passion Project

By Bolt Clipping, Climbing, Film, Food for thought3 Comments

The climber, facing away from the wall, gingerly peers over his toes to watch his sky-blue T-shirt flutter to the ground. He takes a deep breath, then turns in place on the 4-inch ledge on which he’s been standing. Now facing the wall, he unclips from the anchor and begins a precarious rightward traverse. 15 delicate feet later, he clips the rope into a quickdraw more in line with the rest of the bolts. He draws another deep breath, and pulls into the start of a 110-foot long roof. So begins my absolute favorite segment of climbing footage. It doesn’t evoke the adrenalized, finger-tingling, animalistic urge to grab something overhead and freakin’ pull down like most videos of hard climbers climbing hard. It’s more like a good surf film, in which a fragile human is calm and poised amidst the violence and chaos of forces we can’t comprehend. It’s simultaneously serene and exciting, and I can’t look away. He’s nearly horizontal, but his face is completely relaxed. He doesn’t seem to be climbing so much as gliding between ripples in gravity’s field, now relaxing and taking a breath as the next hold makes its way to his hand. He is a virtuoso and the rock is his sheet music. We don’t listen to the notes, we feel the movement swell. The camera follows the climber, uninterrupted, for about 30 minutes. I’ve watched it countless times, and on every occasion I feel transported by the rapture of a perfected performance. It features a…

Read More