Thursday, July 29, 2010

Costs of Flying your Dog in the Cabin

Ok so it's a dog post on the nondogblog - we'll just have to cope won't we?

I try to keep track of how much it will cost to bring my dog along with me in s plane. It used to be cheaper than boarding but no longer. I do pine for the days when I could bring my dog along with me for $50 each way. That said the rules are slightly more reasonable as it used to be one animal per cabin and that sometimes was an issue, now the number is higher.)

Here is my latest walk through of major airlines. Note pet policies are very difficult to find on airline websites. Absolutely the fastest way it is to google: (airlinename) pet

In cabin flying of pets

Alaska Air
$100 each way

$100 each way

$125 each way

$125 each way - domestic
$200 international
$75 Brazil (Go figure)

Northwest (See Delta)

$75 each way

US Airways
$100 each way

$125 each way,,53410,00.html

So does this mean that my dog will be joining us next time I go up to Seattle? I'd like to think so but I don't know. He's happy where he's boarded and that would be cheaper. The other dog stays with a friend and even though she'd rather be with us, it would take wanting to take $200 and set it on fire. I even went to all the trouble to find a carrier that fits them and fits under the seat. Sigh.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Aerial Dance

It's amazing to me what happens when I stop paying attention. Sometimes, I'm not the only one imagining what's possible and even better is when someone actually does something about it.

One thing that I haven't taken enough time to explore is Dance. The problem is that there aren't many forms of dance that really speak to me, but there are some huge exceptions. Contact Improvisation for one (which I first saw at 848 Divisadero now called CounterPULSE) - there is nothing as beautiful as dancers working off each others bodies to create something more that each one could do. other things I love are ones that get the dancers completely off the ground such as Cirque du Soleil (their most recent show Ovo's final is incredible and has people bouncing from the ground and up on to the wall. Details here.) and Streb.

Also as I write the above I realize that I'm forgetting some really influential dancers in SF that were loosely associated with 848 but have moved on. Keith Hennessey (now Circo Zero) and Jess Curtis come first to mind, but there is also Scott Wells and Kathleen Hermesdorf, and many others.

I think it was Streb that had the dancers on the wall and this completely stirred my imagination and I was coming up with all sorts of dance/aerial stuff that I'd like to create. But that's where I left it. 848 was hard for me to get to on a Tues afternoon, and Streb is in freakin' Brooklyn, plus quite honestly I find the dance world pretty intimidating since I haven't been doing it since I was 6 years old. Every so often I take a class and I get a little frustrated. The 848 one I took was an exception, but still haven't gotten a good enough vision on how to make that work.

But it keeps ghosting at my imagination. SF Circus Center has started classes, and I just heard about a Berkeley dance group called Studio 12 Flys, and my imagination has totally woken back up all of those on-the-wall dance creations that I totally want to create - I have visions of dancers running on the walls. Recreating the regular world rotated by 90 degrees.

Even when I'm being lowered at the rock gym or rappelling which I just learned, I totally want to turn and start bouncing and rolling or turning upside down (which is probably not that safe).

But how to start? It's not like you can roll in and say you want to be a choreographer. I think it's with some of the basic classes and hope I don't get hurt or discouraged - I prefer the one's where you can wear a harness and don't have to be super strong. Check out the arms of those performers you see doing "Ribbon Work." Studio 12 Flys has an intro class here. SF Circus Center has there classes here.

Something about dance in particular makes me want to Do It. I'm terrible at just watching (always have been - even when at a bar with a dance floor). When I see a dance I'm trying to remember the details and I never succeed as that part of my brain that can be shown something once and they get it just hasn't gotten enough practice. Even at gym classes I struggle with remembering patterns. But! Now there is You Tube and I can play and replay videos all I like. I'm suddenly a whole lot happier.

And I also wonder what it is I really want to learn. I know all about harnesses. Don't know much about dancing in one. Then I think well maybe I want to know more about trampolines which aren't just for kids anymore and other things like trapezes (or maybe not). And of course the tricky thing is that I want to learn all of this stuff without getting hurt as while I love (reasonable) risk taking in order to learn a skill, I do take longer to heal now, and have to consider more carefully my activities and vulnerability to injury.

And what do I want to see or explore? Is it more dance or acrobatics which is starting to merge ever since Cirque has been with us. (How cool is that? I have seen every Cirque that has come to town since Allegria.) I looked at the videos of Studio 12 Flys and they are more of the meditative style rather than the acrobatic one that Cirque, 848 and Scott Wells favor. I must admit to prefering the later but it is probably where I'm at right now.

And on a slightly tangential note it is interesting how acrobatics has worked it's way into all sorts of things. It's always been in skateboarding, ski stunt jumping, sky diving, airplane acrobatics, and even frisbee dog, but now can be seen in snowboarding, windsurfing, regular surfing (some), bmx, motocross tricks, base jumping (because it's not dangerous enough?). Haven't seen it much in rock climbing, but give them time they're certainly talented enough for it.

It may be hard for me to sleep tonight.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Barbie could be a Snow Camper

I love snow camping and never knew that I would.

I should probably be more specific. I like camping on snow, but not necessarily winter camping. I like snow camping in mild temperatures that are cool enough at night to keep the snow around, but warm enough during the day to relax and not have to pay so much attention to survival issues.

People have these images of snow camping being challenging and difficult. Not really. Save for having to melt now for water it's not all that different.

There are some benefits that I didn't anticipate.

#1 is that you stay cleaner. When someone mentioned this to me, I didn't think too much about it until I went camping in dirt again. Suddenly I'm very much: "Ewgh I'm dirty. There's grim under my fingernails and I can't get it out, and my pants are stiff with crud." Suddenly I'm this big dirt wuss This doesn't happen in snow. No dirt under the fingernails and you can rinse things by just wiping them in carefully selected snow. Your clothing doesn't get stiff with brown stuff and if it gets wet it dries fairly quickly. (You're also not wearing the traditional pants, but more stretchy underwear with snowpants on top.)

#2 is that with snow and a small shovel and daylight, you can play house all you like
You can make a level surface or you can have a sunken bedroom complete with walls to protect you from the wind. You can make tables and other platforms, and have a kitchen, you can have a private or semi-private bathroom. Heck if you're ambitious you can even dig your own snow cave (I don't bother - too much work.)

But what about the cold? Well in Spring it's often not that cold. Laying on the snow? Well you choose well for sleeping bags (mine is a -5 degree down bag that fits me very well.) and you choose very carefully what pad you use. My most recent purchase is a Thermarest NeoAir and it's just awesome at keeping the cold away, and way better than their other pads mostly because it's actually a modern air mattress.

What amazes me is that in the snow I can wear the same thing for days (except for underwear and sock linings) and I don't notice. I very much notice when I'm somewhere else in that kind of situation (even dog agility).

So Barbie might be an ok snow camper.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Wait, You're not Supposed to Die on Mt. Shasta

Mt. Shasta is indeed a real mountain, but the easiest route is very forgiving of beginners who have some training in the basics (how to stop yourself from falling using an ice axe being the most important) and some instruction in when not to be on the mountain (afternoons being the worst.)

I've always contended that with respect to snow, Mt. Shasta is safer than the very popular Mt. Whitney because there is a nice long place for someone to tumble down if they fall. Whitney's snow has a whole bunch of boulders around. If you fall on Shasta you will likely get hurt, but dying is not common.

But this year has been more than a little exciting on my favorite mountain. First there was a experience climber who got stranded by weather on the summit and subsequently tragically died of HACE (High Altitude Cerebral Edema).

Then things were back to a more extreme version of normal with rain and then extended cold weather creating a whole bunch of ice and very slick conditions and the week before I was there with stellar weather there were 7 rescues of fallen climbers. Lots of broken bones and teeth and a whole lot of bruises and some serious mental trauma for those who got to see someone tumble past them at 50mph (do not try to stop them), but no fatalities.

Well. I was on the phone to my mother-in-law who lives near there and she asked if I'd heard about the Bay Area woman who was killed on Shasta today. WHAT?! Fortunately the computer was on. Not a lot of details yet just the same short AP article everywhere:

Kathi Jeanne Ludwig, 56, was climbing the mountain when she was struck by a watermelon sized boulder at 11,000'. She later died of her injuries. I am so very sorry, and offer my deepest condolences to her husband and her family.

But there's so much of the story that we don't know, and I hope to learn.
We don't know where she was or what time or if they were going up or down. We do know that it was a group and there were two guides but we don't know the guide service.

On June 26th we were climbing on the "Avalanche Gulch" route which despite its name is the easiest way to climb the mountain. The key is that you need to be climbing in the morning when everything is frozen into place. Climbers start around midnight to 4am (an "alpine start") to maximize their safe climbing time and noon is usually a turn around time.

Because of altitude sensitivity, I don't climb well above 9600' and so had just slogged up to that very same altitude of 11,000'. As my climbing partner and I were talking, above us on the route we hear what you don't like hearing. "ROCK!" I assure you this is not about music. It means that a rock has been dislodged and is now falling towards you. Luckily for us the dislodgers were a few 100' above us and slightly to the right of us. What was impressive was the rock keep falling and falling in almost what looked like slow motion. While it's mesmerizing to watch you have to get ready to take action if you have the time.

I tell my climbing partner that if the rock keeps coming I want her to leap to the left and arrest (lie face down, holding yourself in position with the ice axe pick dug in the snow). She responded along the lines of "I don't remember signing up for this." I respond "Sorry."

Fortunately for us the sub-volleyball sized rock stopped beside us in a glissade track. Which actually did result in some entertainment as then the climbers above did glissade by. I told one of them "There's your rock" hoping he would stop and move it but I don't think he realized it was in a glissade track (he was in a different one) and he kept on going. Then very soon after someone was using that track and "There's a rock in front of you." definitely got a cartoon-like flailing over-reaction.

We then commenced on my favorite activity on Shasta: glissading. Probably the best time you can have on your cold butt. I love it. (Again you have to know how to stop.) Someone videoed themselves doing it here and here.

So 11,000' is associated with fun and frolic and some potential rock dodging, but nothing terribly serious. To think that someone died in the exact spot under similar, but oh so different circumstances, gives me more than a bit of pause.

I await the details and have set a Google Alert so I can track any posted news.
Hopefully I will hear something soon and not have to wait for it to be documented in Accidents In North American Mountaineering for 2010.

I now have more details.
It was on the West Face out of Hidden Valley. An area that has hardly any rock fall.
It was ONE rock.

It is very much in the class of freak accident.