Sunday, December 11, 2011

Facebook is Bad for Blogging

It's been 2 months since I posted here.  I blame Facebook entirely.  If you like social interaction then Facebook is very reinforcing and makes you want to post there.  I take a lot of photos and it's fun to show them to people and get their impression/opinion.

As a result my blogging here has languished.  They definitely have their separate places. The blog is better for more well thought out issues that I want to exame in more detail and have something to teach or expound upon. Facebook is the province of the silly photo and various "I hate it whens." I'm not sure what this means but Facebook has been sucking up the time more.  Right now I'm stuck in an airport and will be on a plane and maybe this is what it takes sometimes.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Reactionary Cuisine

Paula Deen ( is a moving target

I've been thinking about writing about something I'm calling Backlash Cuisine.

Backlash or Reactionary Cuisine is epitomized by the Paula Deen of around 3 years ago, and still alluded to by her. She shows you how to cook things that are guaranteed to kill you over time because "It's so stinkin' good." I call it reactionary because while much of the US is becoming aware of what a dramatic difference in their health they can make by eating a healthier diet, there seems to be an immature feeling pushback that's gaining traction (sorry for the mixed metaphor - I do love them).

Examples are the increasing size of restaurant meals. It used to be just fast food places, then Denny's jumped in and now we have well known chain restaurants doing it (how high can you stack that hamburger?). This site has a hit parade of meals with really scary calorie, fat and salt counts:

The 20 Worst Restaurant Meals in America

It completely underscores that restaurants do not have your health in mind when they design their menu. They just want it to taste really good. I am so looking forward to having calorie counts printed on the menu like they do now in New York.  We're starting to see it in California and it's pretty eye opening.

But it's one thing for a restaurant to slip in calories, it's quite another when you do it to yourself.

Paula Deen is the shining example of death by butter.

Things like (no urls, I refuse):
Fried butter balls
Deep fried bacon wrapped mac and cheese

And I will add the url for the donut burger because it's just so appalling:

It's using donuts instead of hamburger buns and she didn't slice the donut, no it's TWO donuts.

The website Serious Eats has a growing set of pages entitled Paula Deen is Trying to Kill Us
(Googling that phrase is pretty funny too)

But while looking up the links I notice the dates seem a little old. I first heard her on Wait, wait, Don't Tell Me on NPR. Now that interview is relatively recent, so I know she still thinks "it's so stinkin' good" but these days she seems a little slimmer. (She's also utterly charming - she'd make a great assassin.)

Googling for Paula Deen weight loss reveals this amusing and slightly alarming video of her pants falling off after showing her now slimmer bum to the audience.

I do wish her well and hope that she survives her success.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

My "Son" the Ranch Hand

If it isn't entirely obvious I keep a (now 7 year) blog/diary about me training my dogs and all the unlikely places it's taken me, but this is more about me than them so it seems more appropriate to put it here.

Dog agility is a love of mine.  I really like the problem solving aspect of it and it's something I can do well.  One of my dogs I got with agility in mind, the other I got to manage the first dog and to maybe do agility.

Well that was the plan.  Turns out that agility is not Dog #1's (whose name is Yoshi) passion at all and all the dogs crowding around kinda drive him a bit nuts.  The reason?  He's an order obsessed herding dog.  Unauthorized motion drives him crazy and an agility trial is full of such commotion.  All he wants to do is tell other animals what to do to the point of clamping on to them which is rather frowned upon by all of us.  He is very physically talented, and could have gone to any high powered agility school he wanted and done well (in fact for a while he was at one).  It took me months to figure out that all he really wanted to be was a Ranch Hand.  Yes, my son the Ranch Hand who is pictured here.

I'm realizing that there's a lesson in there somewhere.  You have a plan for a child or a pet of yours and it turns out that's not what is going to happen.  I'm used to the idea that children have to make their own choices, but I sort of thought that I'd have some power to dictate what my dog did and I do, but it's hard to see your dog stressed out and being a freaky boy about OMG there's a dog/cat/squirrel/etc moving, so I gave in and we both started to learn herding.

Herding is a very difficult thing for a dog to learn as the dog has to respect what the handler says, in particular, STOP moving when asked.  What this means is that we argue a lot which I first thought was not a good thing for our relationship, but then I started to notice how happy he was.  He's still a head case as he worries about not being able to control the stock and starts whizzing around in manic circles which doesn't make anyone happy (especially the sheep, though the goats aren't thrilled about it either), but we're learning and I find myself in a pasture stomping around in herbivore poop wondering how I got there.  I used to be a horse person so pastures are at least familiar, but this is still not where I was aspiring to.  I was more thinking the Agility National Championships.  This certainly isn't it, but I look at the photo and realize that he's right were he wants to be.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Ya just have to Love Facebook

For me, Facebook is an excellent source of levity and reality check.

The suggestions from my "So What Now?" post were

 - Take up knitting (From a non-knitter)
 - Keep a goat herd on a mountain (a clever combination of one of my dog's obsessions and mine)
 - Ice Hockey! (From someone who does play it and has all of her teeth.  I asked if she was doing it right and she assures me she is.)
 - World Peace

For World Peace I said that I thought I should instead work on World Power and Dominion, but dictators aren't doing so well these days.  I could go back to the idea that I wanted to start my own religion, but you have to have a certain delusional intensity and maintain it.  I guess that's true for dictators too.

Monday, August 22, 2011

So Now What?

In July I finally climbed all the way up Mt. Whitney after figuring out how to overcome a lot of altitude issues and learning to feel comfortable around snow and rock.

It's been an accidental 10 year journey, one that I gave up on a few times, but couldn't let it go and would go back every couple of years or more often (once even twice in a year).

it inspired me to learn things that it turned out I didn't need to know, but am glad I did
 - snow skills like "self arrest" which is stopping your slide down a mountain with an ice axe.
 - some skiing and winter camping skills
 - rock climbing basics
 - route finding with a map and gps/compass, and how to travel cross country.

And I got to know the Mt Whitney Main trail really well.  I'd been on the lower part many times, I've been to Trail Crest (the hard part of the climb) 3 times.  I've been on the lower part of the Mountaineer's route (Different approach than the Main Trail) 3 times which is the best view of Whitney, albeit not the easiest way up it at all (especially that last part, just before the summit, where you're climbing up a very steep pile of rocks with a very long way to fall.  I don't think I'm going to do that - I prefer being roped in on such surfaces.)

And I learned the reality of "climb high, sleep low" as it's the one thing that kept me healthy, as I know that my body doesn't do that great with altitude, even if I can climb in it.

So I'm left with Now What? I've fallen in love with Mt Shasta and am getting to know Yosemite, and working on them further seems like a natural, but I hesitate to take on another inadvertent long term project.  Shasta is a tough enough mountain that it's possible despite if I keep trying that I might never summit it and I'm not sure I want to deal with that kind of "I'm a failure" disappointment.  I think I'm more interested in attainable goals, which is wussing out in a way, but honestly I'm tired of failing, and I want to work on something I at least have a chance at succeeding at.

Mountains offer easily recognizable goals.  Get to the top, being the most obvious version among many.  And I love climbing even if I struggle physically.  But my first love besides horses and dogs is cycling, and I'm thinking i want to do more of that especially mountain biking.  And, of course, there's the dog sports obsession.  Accidentally, I have three dog sports.  Agility is my first love, but one of my dogs really likes Herding (something I never thought I'd do) and the other is partial to Obedience and Rally.

But it's fun to do other things besides dog sports, even though it makes me chronically short on time, so I want to focus on something else but don't know what.
 - running? (not very good at it, but I like being able to sort of do it.)
 - cycling?
 - skiing - yes yes
 - hiking?
 - climbing?
 - kayaking?
- something else?  I really miss traveling internationally

One thing I've noticed is that I really like climbing up something and then being able to safely go down much faster.  I'm not that patient with hiking in that respect.  Once I've climbed something, I'm ready to go down ... fast.  Hence my love of cycling, skiing and glissading on snow (way cool).  Mt Diablo has a lot of fireroads that are actually too steep for me to bike much of, but I'm happy to push the bike up just so i can go down (weeee.)  River kayaking (as opposed to Sea kayaking) has going down rapids but it's a logistical hassle (two cars to shuttle things around), and there is that drowning potential that is a little bothersome, though that should get better with more experience.

So I dither and just have short local adventures.  The most recent being crashing down Shell Ridge in Walnut Creek. Ah well, the flesh wounds are healing.

Friday, July 29, 2011

I Miss My Dad

My father recently passed away and I've asked to speak at his memorial service tomorrow.
I still haven't completely decided what to say but writing it in my blog seems to help me focus (similar to my putting my struggle with writing my marriage vows here.)

The trouble is that I'm not going to be able to get a sentance out without breaking down in tears but I have to remember that's completely ok.  It's a small service with family and another family who are very close friends.

It feels a little strange to be talking about myself, but it's a lead in and it occurred to me as I was spreading his ashes, so it seems pretty essential.


Two weeks ago I summitted Mount Whitney.  My father would have been so proud.
Climbing to the top of mountains was never really his thing, he more liked to go into the mountains to decompress and relax by a nice lake.  He would climb over mountain passes like Kearsarge in the Sierras, but it was more with a destination in mind.

However, he knew that I and a neighbor before me, liked climbing and he was always supportive.  He also knew of my struggles with trying to deal with altitude sickness, and what makes today in particular really hard is that I want to tell him:  I figured it out.  Here is how you do it.  I want to tell him every part of it, and he would ask me detailed questions and we would talk about it for hours.

In short, my being able to climb Mt. Whitney was a problem to solve, and he and I both have that in common.  We love to solve problems.

Mt. Whitney was never his thing because it's a popular trail and he claimed that he liked to get away from people.  That is the biggest lie and I do regret never calling him out on it, because it's a conversation he would have loved.  He would claim this wanting to get away from people, all the while talking to every single person we met on the trail.  He loved talking to people, and quite honestly he would have loved talking to all the people who are drawn to Mt. Whitney as they come from all over.  He wouldn't have even had to have gone on the trail, but could have just hung out at the cafe and store (after he got over the idea of a store in the edge of the wilderness) and talked with the very knowledgeable proprietor Doug Sr. and his wife Earlene and anyone else who stopped in.  I always go by the store and say hello to Doug and Earlene and I know it's a habit I got from Dad even if he would have claimed otherwise.

To spread Dad's ashes Terri and I drove up from the town of Independence on highway 395 to the Onion Valley which is a trailhead for going up Kearsarge Pass which is a trip that he took all the kids on.  We walked about quarter to a half mile up the trail to find a really beautiful spot and all I could think about was: How the heck did he convince his kids to put backpacks on and climb over a mountain pass.  And this is in the 70's where blisters and pain where a guaranteed part of the experience.  Not only that, we wanted to go.  What charisma he had.  And what a great attitude.  On a separate trip his boots fell apart (the soles had come off) which is a very, very serious problem.  He managed to find a pair of tennis shoes on a mule train and they wouldn't even let him pay for them and he walked out of the mountains in Keds, and never complained.  I sure would have been, but he was like that.

Terri and I would travel with Mom and Dad on trips to Canada and I took him to Scotland once.  Every so often Dad would turn up missing and I'd have to go find him.  If someone goes missing it can be quite stressful, but after a few times of this I realized how easy he was to find.  All I had to do was stop and listen for the laughter.  I would eventually find him talking to one or more people from somewhere and having a grand time.  People loved him.  I learned so much by seeming him through other people's eyes.  As his kid, I tend to see him as smart and grouchy, and kind of an overbearing pain sometimes, but seeing the real joy that he spread was such a gift to me.  I've lot count of the number of people who have gone out of their way to tell me "I really like your Dad."  And that is my take away:  People loved him and  I do too.  I miss you so much Dad.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Summiting Mt. Whitney - What It Finally Took

After 10 years of struggling with altitude issues (on and off) I finally summited Mt. Whitney and I was not ill.  It most certainly wasn't easy, but was doable without a lot of suffering (ok, a little but nothing like it's been in the past)  It took years because I had to explore all the wrong ways to do things.  I kept at it because I solve problems for a living and it was my personality that just couldn't let this problem go unsolved.  And it's gorgeous up there anyway.

The basics are, find a way to get enough oxygen, water, food, glycogen and sleep.  Oxygen trumps everything including sleep.  In fact, especially including sleep.
  • climb high, sleep low
  • learn pressure breathing and do it a lot on your climb, or doing any exercise
  • bring and eat food you love as nothing else will look good
  • bring and eat easily digestible trail snacks that you will eat while climbing
    I use Skittles of all things, and Trader Joe's Chocolate Nibs
    This is "Bonk Prevention"
  • bring and drink a sports drink like Gatorade
    This is also Bonk Prevention
  • sleeping low may mean a longer summit day
  • spending an extra night at a moderate altitude (but still in the "sleep low" range) seems to help increase oxygen in the blood by a few percentage points
  • if Diamox helps then feel free to use it

Not getting enough oxygen is probably the main reason I have gotten altitude sickness.  Two years ago I was feeling great and ready to go for the Mt. Whitney summit the next day.  I went to sleep at Trail Camp at 12,000' and woke up very ill and lucky to move anywhere, until I got enough energy to go down.  I detail that misery here:

I let it go for a year and then I realized that I wanted to try again this year, but this time I was going to go from the lower Outpost Camp (10,300') which is a gorgeous place with a lovely waterfall and none of the crowded slum features of Trail Camp.

The issue is that when you fall asleep you lose control of your breathing, and at altitude it's important to be able to control your breathing, and you're at risk of getting ill from too little oxygen.

There is just as much oxygen at altitude but there is less air pressure (A great reference on this is the book "Going Higher" by Charles Houston, David Harris, and Ellen Zeman).  The effect of that lack of air pressure is when you breathe out not all of the carbon dioxide leaves your lungs leaving less space available for incoming oxygen.  To get the CO2 out of your lungs, one very effective way is to "Pressure Breathe" which is where you forcefully exhale hard.  I have a video demonstrating it in a Mt. Shasta parking lot with an oximeter here:

Pressure breathing is probably the reason I summitted this time.  Alas there is no way that manually managing your breathing is a good as your automatic breathing so my climbing was slower, as I had to pause every so often.

So oxygen is the main issue but there is also the issue of maintaining the level of glycogen in your muscles.  If you've ever had the experience of suddenly having your muscles refuse to do anything at all you have "Hit the Wall" or Bonked (not in the British sense):

To avoid The Bonk you have to keep eating and drinking (more than water).  The exercise you are doing is seriously depleting your energy stores and you need to find a way to maintain or at least replenish it.  On this trip I actually did Bonk while carrying a backpack during the first part of the climb.  I had to pause and eat simple sugars (Magic Skittles in my case) and also do a lot of Pressure Breathing too to help with the oxygen part of the exhaustion.

I find that carrying heavy things takes a lot of the oxygen in my blood and there's not much left for everything else.  After about 30-45 minutes I was ok to start climbing again.  Fortunately we didn't have far to go, but we had a significant short climb left to do.

So I made it.  I started at 3am.  Summited 12 hours later, and then got back 7 hours after that.  It was a long day, but with breaks and attention to detail it was very doable, and I stayed healthy which was the important part.

Given that I am no naturally very good at elevations over 12,000' I'm probably going to make this my first and last 14er.  I was working on climbing Mt. Shasta too, but things are much harder when snow is involved and I had a hard enough time on the trail (and Shasta is much steeper too.)  I have gotten up to Helen Lake 3 times (one time even higher) and glissaded down but I think, for me, Shasta is going to be a place to ski on which is a very nice thing.  It's a way of extending your ski season by two months, and it's so lovely to camp near the cabin and that wonderful spring.

But back to Whitney.  The answer is you can do it.  It takes care and determination and thought but it is possible, you just gotta work for the oxygen.

Shasta Skiing

Before I get into the Whitney entries I just wanted to mention that after I decided that I didn't want to go on a multi-night snow camping trip by myself, I turned it into a couple a days trips skiing which was much more fun.

The is the second of two trips.  The first one is where I made the Pressure Breathing demo video in one of the lower entries.  This time I was using the Randonee skis again (same ones and I might buy them) but struggled to find a boot that fit me.  Leif at 5th Season tells me that that issue goes away when you buy the boots as they a fitted to you by using heat molding.

This trip was two weeks later and the snow was now not fun anymore but very sun cupped.  On one day I would up snowshoeing instead.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Shasta Revelation: I Don't Want to Do This by Myself

It's funny what it takes for something to FINALLY get through to me.  I'm in the final planning for a Mt. Shasta trip.  I'm going to have to spend a couple of days at altitude to see if I can adjust to the elevation more to see if my blood oxygen level increases to more acceptable levels.

I've done these trips before both with and without other people.  The times I've been by myself I've been miserable at camp - missing Terri, missing my dogs.  I have a great time talking to people there at Horse Camp and higher, but when I am in camp I get lonely.  And after the trip, it's funny how quickly I forget that.  I've been planning this trip for a months  now and while this must have been in the back of my brain at the time I was completely committed to figuring out this altitude issue that I appear to have (low blood oxygen at altitude)  I get obsessed with the details and I forget but just now as I'm in the middle of putting everything together (see photo) - it hits me.  I don't want to go like this.  I want Terri with me.  Of course it's logistically too late for this trip so we're looking at next year but I'm amazed at just how blind I can be sometimes.

So Terri agree to go next year and I'm kicking myself for being SO dern slow at getting this.  Who knows I could change my mind again (not leaving for a couple of days) and I'll still go, but instead will likely ski or day climb, both of which don't answer my altitude questions.  We are going to Mt. Whitney in a couple of weeks so I'll get a chance to research it them.  But it's crazy making how conflicted I am about this.  I love climbing, but am unwilling to pay the price of time to make myself successful at it.

Good thing I'm not out of any money, but this is frustrating.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Pay Pal Scam

I find I'm often writing about these types of scams over and over so I thought I'd write something I could refer to later.

It's very common to the point of passe' to get Pay Pal scams in email.  They're actually getting less common as they are kinda patently obvious, and people are getting wiser these days and scammers seem to have moved on to Facebook viruses and breaking into Yahoo accounts.  That said, there are always the Junior Scammers who are just getting their fingers going.

So in email, I receive something from allegedly from Pay Pal with the Subject line "Update your account"

Warning Notification

Dear PayPal Member,
It has come to our attention that your PayPal® account information needs to be  updated as part of our continuing commitment to protect your account and to  reduce the instance of fraud on our website. If you could please take 5-10 minutes out of your online experience and update your personal records you will not run into any future problems with the online service.
However, failure to update your records will result in account suspension.  Please update your records before June, 30, 2011.
Once you have updated your account records, your PayPal® account activity will not be interrupted and will continue as normal.
Click here to update your PayPal account information [link removed]

Now first of all Pay Pal says they NEVER send this sort of request, but that's not the only thing.
Key elements of a scam are:
  • Vague "Dear Pay Pal Customer
  • Ominous tone "Warning" "Account Suspension" "problems"
  • Sense of urgency - you need to act now
  • Some drivel about "protecting your account" for which their feet should be held to the fire for an extended period of time
One thing way that you know Pay Pal or your bank is really who they say who they are is that they address you by your name.  When that is missing, with a bit of practice it's absence really sticks out.
Then the ominous tone becomes a joke.  If you're not sure about something then try doing nothing and see what happens.  If there's really a problem you'll get more email or even a phone call.

Then in these scams there is usually (almost always) a link for you to click on.  The link may say "PayPal," but it's actually going somewhere else.  You can try this link:  PayPal
After you click on it, come back and just hover the mouse over it.  You will see, which I assure you has nothing to do with PayPal.

So when you get one of these emails if it's not plainly obvious it's a scam, you can hover your mouse over the link to verify that it's not PayPal, though you have to be careful.  Bad guys sometimes name things, which is just them naming one of their hosts "paypal."  The "paypal" has to be right before the ".com/" for it to be legit.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Blood Oxygen Percentage and Climbing - Good and Bad News

After my father passed away my family decided to give me his Oximeter which is that small thingy (technical term) that they clip onto the end of your finger at the hospital or doctor's office to measure the percentage  of oxygen in your blood.  Given that I've struggled with getting enough oxygen at altitude, I've considered buying one before, but held off due to the $300 cost,  As a result, it's a sweet and much appreciated gift.

One of my hesitations about buying one was that I wasn't sure how much information out of it.  It's easy for me to justify the cost of a GPS as I know what to expect out of it and use one very, very often.  Knowing my blood O2 % was either going to be really revealing or really boring.

At sea level it's very boring which is what you want.  Normal readings are 90-100% below 90% is hypoxia and a potentially dangerous condition.  Hypoxia can make both pilots and mountaineers really stupid sometimes.  I live at a glorious 20' elevation so mine is 98-99% and other people around me often have 100% readings.

However when I drive up to nearly 7000' I now know that my oxygen level plummets to the 80's without a lot of help with pressure breathing.  I made a video testing this out at Bunny Flat on Mt Shasta:

The fact that I can at least temporarily fix it with pressure breathing is both good and bad news.  The problem is that the effects of pressure breathing are highly temporary, so you have to be willing to do it a lot,  The other problem is that this explains why I sometimes get sick when I sleep at 12,000' even when taking Diamox (a drug that increases your respiration rate).  When I sleep, my respiration level goes down and my oxygen level stays very low for too long.  What I don't know yet is if there's a way that I can adapt by spending a night or two at just below the altitude that I get ill.

Even small changes in altitude will affect blood oxygen as there is lower air pressure.  Even in Redding (1000') my reading was 96%.  In Mt Shasta City (3653') it was in the low 90's.

It probably is the powers that be telling me that I have the wrong hobby and I should be doing more kayaking, sailing, and other sea level events.  I love kayaking and know how to sail and live near the water, but there's something about the mountains that calls out to me.  It may be that I am doomed not to climb super high (I don't climb well above a certain altitude which varies), but I have a new toy/tool and can gather a fair bit of information with it.

The next thing to do will be to drag my sorry butt up to Horse Camp at 7900' and hang there for a couple of days and see if my base level of blood oxygen changes.

Another thing I want to check on is how is my O2 level affected by exercise.  Is my leg dragging because of low oxygen? 

This should be fun.  Besides it's the climbing season and it's gorgeous even if I'm not getting up super high.  I'm also learning to ski off piste and skiing in June is just glorious - note the crowds on Mt Shasta.

The Year's First Predatory Loan Offer

When the housing bubble finally burst (took long enough didn't it?) all of the predatory loan offers disappeared from my mailbox.  It was surprisingly sudden.  It's like they all went off to the Cayman Islands to open casinos or something.

Maybe it's a way of measuring that the market is recovering some, or that we didn't punish the perpetrators enough, but one substandard loan-sharky offer has finally reappeared in the mailbox.

Since this is more about how to read Fine Print that to pick on a particular company (even though they really do deserve it) I've taken the name out of the images.

So after some introductory statements trying to make things look legit which is just quoting stuff off of public record here is the body of the letter:

It clearly says "Lock in a fixed rate" and even uses the S-word: security.
And goes on to say that they have an A rating with the BBB (A+ being the best).  Sadly this is true.

Now (and this is the important part) skip to the bottom.  They have to say (in the finest print possible) what they are actually talking about:

(Sorry for the too wide image - I wanted it to be readable)

"This is an offer for s new 5 year adjustable rate mortage." NOT a fixed rate.
and (OMG) "with an interest-only payment"

ARMs are not horrible (more info it's fixed for 5 years (which is why they get to imply that it's a fixed rate loan), but after 5 years the rate then adjusts ever year.  If you're going to sell you house in under 10 years and if (big if) your house's value hasn't been over-inflated and is about to become unsellable for at least what you paid for it, then an ARM is not too awful, but what makes this particular loan fall into the Run Away category is the "interest-only."  Your payments are doing nothing, but making the lender rich.  And you have probably paid a fee to them as well for the privilege.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

I Wanna be a Philanthropist or Venture Capitalist

This really should just be a Facebook post but Facebook makes me neglect my blog so this is just evening things out.

i think I'd be good at figuring out who to give significant portions of money to, but I don't know how to train for such a career.  And I lack the essential large pile of money.  I have fun with my itty bitty pile at the end of the year enough to be harrassed by the recipents the rest of the year, but it's just not the same.

I think I should practice saying No as that's an essential VC skill.  We have and depend on caller ID to ignore the robot callers, but if I would just pick up the phone and politely say to the poor minimum wage slave that is answering the rare call pickups that "I'm sorry, we don't accept sales calls." and "Our donation program period is at the end of the year, and no it doesn't matter what your agenda or campaign is."  (The obvious exceptions would be around election time but we'll skip that.)

It takes effort to give money, and surprisingly little effort to say no.  It's completely maddening that charities will turn right around the second you give them money and ask for more.  It's hard not to take it personally, but they are operating on their own schedules and you have to realize that you don't have to dance to the same beat.

But back to my silly ambition.  It would be really cool to be in a position to really make a difference by investing $$$ in new research or new infrastructure, or just keep my favorite artists collective afloat.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Judgment Day - Another Jonestown?

The fervor that Harold Camping has stirred up about his current prediction of May 21 being a day that at around 6pm there will be a massive Earthquake felt around the world (never mind that's not how earthquakes work - duh) and that the usual Christian cataclysmic events will occur, has me concerned.  Dynamic leaders know they carry a lot of sway but there are some ways that they seem unable to see..

Mr. Camping (who is 89 according to here) says he is 100% sure that "judgment day" (lower case intentional) will be May 21, 2011.  What he seems to lack is a plan B that he claims there is no need for and he desperately needs one.  Given that he is 89 and he group doesn't quite count as a cult (Dynamic Leader - check, Us and Them - check, Cloistered membership - nope.) I don't quite seem him pulling off a mass suicide like in Jonestown especially since Christians are taught to be passive and wait, but I don't think he realizes that the disappointment and outright anguish that his followers are going to experience.  I worry that those who truly feel abandoned are going to feel suicidal and I worry that there is a definite risk of several of them jumping off of the cliff that they're likely out waiting on.

Several of us happy heathens have been having a good time about this but there is a serious side to it. 
If you know someone who has bought into this, please check in with them.  They will not be happy campers on May 22.

Friday, May 13, 2011

The Judgement Day people need FUD lessons

I was serious Christian from when I was 16 to until I was 20.

When I was even younger, I figured out that Jesus would come back in 1983.  Even at the time I honestly didn't believe it then and now most certainly don't since I'm no longer a Christian (I'm much more a Gnostic and the rest of Christianity wiped them out so I rather enjoy holding a grudge).  To help myself extract myself from Christianity, I took a fair bit of Christian history in college and it helped me a lot with perspective.  Anyway my point is doing these calculations are not hard as there are a lot of what appears to be hard numbers in the Bible.

So now we have Judgement Day prediction du mois which is set for May 21.

This end times thing is absolutely nothing new.  The early Christians thought Jesus was coming back very soon (like within their lifetimes, and that feeling is often stoked from time to time.

Reading this fantastic NPR article here:
It's clear that what Mr Camping needs is FUD lessons (Fear, Uncertainly, Doubt).  The strongest fears are vague and for heavens (sorry) sake don't put a date on it, you're just going to look like the moron that you really are.

And what I can't figure out is it they people are literalists then they really have their order all wrong.

I still have a New International Version of the Bible (a very geeky bible)

The order laid out in Revelation indicates that the current wackos are just off the scale.

There isn't a rapture in Revelation by the way.  In fact the word isn't in the Bible though this reference points out the various places the concept may be referred to in the Bible:

- Christ reappears in Rev 19:11 if you believe that "Faithful and Truth" is Jesus
- lots of B Movie bloodshed ensues
- then 1000 years passes (Where is this in their calculations?)
- at the end of that then Satan is unbound
- then you finally get your Judgment Day

Do you know how much I'm looking forward to doing a: "Happy Judgement Day, All sinners present and accounted for?" Status update?  And of course there will be: "Happy Day After Judgment Day."   A friends wants to see if she can talk one of them out of the nice car that they're driving.  I look forward to see if she succeeded.

Monday, May 02, 2011

The Search for the Perfect Place

My father very recently passed away, which albeit expected doesn't make it any easier.

He wished to be cremated and my family has asked that some of his ashes be taken to the Sierras and I'm the only one able to make the trip.  My father loved the Sierra's.  He was a Boy Scout leader and took my brother's troop on trips there and later started taking my sister and brother and a family friend, then finally after a whole bunch of whining and prodding, I was included - first to the San Gabriel Mountains and then a couple trips to the Sierra's. 

Honestly, no one cares where I take the ashes including my Dad (perhaps especially him).  I could drive to the Sierra's, stop by a nice trailhead and dump them off, but of course the original inspiration for the suggestion was from the trips that he often talked about. But this isn't about him, it's about what I can live with for the rest of my life and the "where" really matters to me.  It mattered when I was distributing some of my dog's ashes and it really matters with my Dad's. It's a way of closure and the more effort I put into the process, the more at peace I will be.

But we are talking about the Sierra's here which is not always the most straightforward of destinations.  At first it was going to be really easy.  I have a Whitney trip coming up in July and I can easily take the ashes with me (it will only be some of the ashes so it won't be a huge deal bringing them.)  No problem right?

Leave it to me to over-think things.  Dad never climbed or even tried to climb Mt. Whitney even though a neighbor of ours did several times.  It was just never his thing I get the impression.  He went into the mountains to get away and the Mt. Whitney Main Trail is not the place to get away from people.  Ironically I don't mind people, I go into the mountains for the challenge and beauty of them and the people there usually don't bother me and are often welcome company.  In fact, if I'm hiking by myself having people around is a safety net of sorts - it's why Terri is ok with me going to Mt. Shasta by myself as you're never really completely by yourself.

But back to the issue at hand - making a simple task complicated.  So I'm thinking that Mt. Whitney may not be the ideal place.  My Dad was always looking for nice lakes to camp near.  Unlike me, he wasn't necessarily a climber.  He was much more into finding a nice spot to decompress.

So I'm thinking what lake?  Well there's no shortage of really nice lakes, but it has to be one with meaning.  The place that Dad spoke of over and over again was going over Kearsarge Pass (11,750') and then down into that area which has some lovely lakes like Bullfrog and Charlote Lakes.  Those would be just fine, but the trip that he talked about over and over again is the one didn't start at Kearsarge but from the West side via Bubb's Creek.  It was the time where he took us up a climber's trail (not a regularly maintained trail) into Gardiner Basin.  What made the trip memorable was not only the scenery, but his willingness to let me talk him into taking a "shortcut" up a mountain side.  We did not get all the way up and wound up spending the night on it.  In fairness, he did check this plan out with a ranger and the ranger thought it might be fun.  It was mostly a lesson for me in just how big mountains can be especially when you're 15 years old.

Here's the basic layout.  The actual trail is in pink and my shortcut is in red.  The plan was to get from Bubb's Creek to Charlotte Lake over night there and then go up into Gardiner Basin to the North.  We never made it that far and that's where we got to sleep with the Manzanitas.

Then the next day we hiked up into Gardiner Basin which should have been hard and was, but was nothing compared to yesterday's misadventure, and that's where we landed for a couple of days.  Just fishing and messing around the lakes.  I wasn't a climber then so it's didn't occur to me to climb Mt Gardiner or Mt Cotter.  It sure would have now.

So the choice that immediately occurred to me was somewhere in Gardiner Basin, but I haven't been over there since and if I go into that area I likely would like to go see something else, so I vacillate.  What makes me hesitate is that it's two day trip and there are some gorgeous places that we (Terri will come along) will pass up to do it.

I think one solution I have for the moment is to go in via Kearsarge on the East side and camp at Charlotte Lake (if it's allowed, it's a popular place).  Then just climb over to Gardiner as a day trip and come back and then if we wish, we can go somewhere else like Rae Lakes or 60 Lake Basin since I've seen neither place.  But all this rigmarole seems a little silly as simply going to the gorgeous places would be more than fine.  And so I dither.  Fortunately unlike a Whitney trip I have some time to make up my mind.

My sister found some photos of a Kearsarge trip we took and that trip started in the Onion Valley.  Fortunately the Onion Valley is out of Independence which is just north of Lone Pine where Terri and I were going anyway.  So we wound up driving up to the Kearsarge pass trail head and walking 1/3 of a mile up the trail till we found this gorgeous spot similar to the photo which was just perfect and it didn't take a day of trekking to get there either.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Should I Write a Book?

So I'm toying (and that's the right word at this point) with the idea of writing a book, and I can't decide whether it's worth the effort or not.  I love writing, but I'm much more the short attention span chronicler blogger type.  Every so often someone will encourage me to or I realize that I have enough material to warrant a book but then I feel the mental panic brake being stomped on.

For one, it's a huge undertaking and takes massive commitment
But more importantly, you really have to believe that what you are doing is different from what's already out there, and most importantly you have to believe in yourself.    The cool thing about blogging is you just do it.  You don't have to agonize about it.  I had to be told that I could write decently.  I had to be told that I can write humorously.  (Really?   Right now I can see that I can write boringly.)

 I guess it all goes back to trying not to give "I can't" too much power.  I hate being so fear driven.

With respect to writing that takes a log more confidence than dashing off the overly-self-indulgent blog post.  (Which I must say I am so very grateful to have such an outlet - it keeps me and those around me sane.)

Oh and another thing is that you kind of have to be a bit secretive until your book is published.  I know someone who disappeared of the face of the internet to write another book after publishing one very successful one.  We haven't heard from her since and I'm getting concerned.  It that's what it takes then maybe I don't want to do this.

Oh! and ANOTHER thing.  Writing the book I'm thinking of means going over a lot of past effort and agony and I find that I am not really inclined to look back just yet.

The cool thing about a book is that it's a great way to clone yourself.  You can only give one presentation/seminar at a time.  Granted to multiple people if that's your style, but it still limits you some.

I'm thinking maybe I should just continue to put my thoughts on the internet.  I don't do this for a living and it appears the more you give the more you get back anyway (up to a point - people do expect a lot for free these days, but that's mostly from large corporations who are perceived to be wealthy anyway).

I could do a sort of value added thing that several small companies do.  They have a large program that is free, but if you want help with it you pay them for support.  I could put the basics on the internet and if someone wanted further help then I charge for it.

Of course then there's the Google model which is to give over 90% away and charge a fortune for the other 10%, but I don't quite see that happening for some reason. :)

Anyway I'll just continue to dither.  Never mind me.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Snowboarding: Domestic Discord

I have no issue with snowboarding personally.  It looks like a blast and I hope to learn it someday.

But I've never seen quite so many domestic arguments on the slope as I have over snowboarding.
The basic gist is unless you're a professional instructor/teacher: Don't try to teach a loved one snowboarding.

The usual scenario is guy wants to go snowboarding and talks his girlfriend into coming along.  "It's easy I'll teach you."  After about the 15th fall said girlfriend is more than a little miffed, dude just wants to go do some runs unencumbered, and there usually is a screaming argument.

That's the usual scenario, but I recently saw a father yelling at his young son over the same exact scenario, which I found particularly appalling.

This was at Sugarbowl who has a great instruction program for beginners of all ages.  There really isn't an excuse for this.

When you learn to be a teacher, you learn to have some distance (I speak from experience).  If someone you're teaching suddenly decides they hate what you're teaching, that has to be ok.  It's part of learning to be a teacher.   That distance is even harder to maintain when you are trying to teach someone you care about.  You can do it, but it takes effort and that's even if you already are familiar with the professional distance that a teacher or instructor has.  If you are tied up in the outcome then OMG you have already lost, and odds for a domestic meltdown are very good.

Do you and your family a favor and sign up your loved one up for lessons.  If you want to be involved, take the same class.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

My Skiing Date with Harry and Jerome

So I haven't been skiing much since my avalanche class last yesr

The reason is mostly because of being forced to negociate terrain that was beyond my skill level that I detail in::
Snow Greving:
The Weirdness of Minor Emotional Trauma:

But it's been a year and I thought it was time to start back up on my ski training since I'm still stuck on the blues and want to be much better.  The day before I was supposed to go I suddenly found myself stressing about it and couldn't figure out why.  Then I remembered all the fun that I detail above.  But my anxiety mystified me as simply going skiing doesn't mean that I'm going to run into someone insisting that I do something that I'm not ready to do. Then I realized that I was going to take a lesson.  The second that I told myself that I didn't *have* to take a lesson, my stress evaporated.   It wasn't where I was going as I'm going to Sugarbowl which is a place I'm very familiar with and is not Squaw (the place of all the stress though it would likely be only stressful at very particular locations of Squaw if even that.

What was so anxiety producing was being in a position where others were depending on my to complete something I wasn't qualified to so.  For some reason, however silly, signing up for a group ski lesson was causing the same stress.  Never mind that they would just stick you in a different class if you needed it.  Totally irrational, but whatever.

But I've had a lot of lessons and I know what I need to work on.  Specifically my right turn.  If you look at my ski tracks it looks like a backwards 2.  Very nice smooth left turn and choppy abrupt right turn.  My left leg gets fatigued easier because my balance isn't quite right and I'm over using it.

So once I realized that all I needed was mileage I was suddenly ok and in the morning Harry Dresden the wizard (not Potter) and I took off for Sugarbowl.  The Dresden novels are by Jim Butcher and I get them via  Harry is a bit of a smart ass and is forever getting his butt kicked by some manevolent other world creature.  He's just as likable as Harry Potter, but older and has different angsts (what wizard doesn't angst).  Oh and the magic is really cool.  The only thing missing is Herminone.

So today's project was to spend quality time with Jerome (Hill).  Jerome is a mostly intermediate area in Sugarbowl and there is a good variety in the blues that it has.  For the longest time in the past I would just go up the chairlift and down the main trail "Trailblazer." but there is a lot less traffic on the slightly harder."Broken Axel" and "Caleb's Way."  I haven't worked up the nerve to try "Central Pacific" and twice I've tried the backside "Sidewinder" trail and both times completely regretted it as there are some steep sections where I don't have time or the leg strength or the nerve to turn in time (it's kind of narrow too) and I go tumbling.  Oh and that "Pioneer Trail" green is green only until it starts to curve and then it gets scary steep for beginners.

And that's how I spent most of the day until my left quad got too tired.  Once that happens, my technique goes all south and there's really no point in continuing.  I think I'll do another day like this one and work up to Central Pacific and try to find a way down Sidewinder without being sideways.  One way is to hop the turn, but I really don't know how to do that well.

Then I could go back to Mt Lincoln (tougher blues that I've fallen on) or Mt Disney.  Mt Disney's blues have the fun aspect of leading you along and then dropping you off a steep section.  I talked about it here, but here is the photo again.  I know there has to be an easier way down, but haven't taken the time to find it.  It takes a while to get over to this part of the park so it's easier to just stay in once place and work on skills instead of investigating which is fun, but a different thing and I have easy access to Sugarbowl so it's not like I will never see it again (hopefully).

Sunday, January 09, 2011

I hate: "I can't"

I've noticed that nothing quite makes me seeth nearly as much as "I can't" - especially when we're talking about physical limitations.  Having trouble with what I thought was elevation just made me nuts.  I kept thinking that I should give up and do something more productive rather than going up to elevations that make me miserable on a regular basis.  But I never could just drop it and now that I've figured out that the issue is over-exertion and not necessarily elevation, I'm really glad I did.

Verifying: My issue really is Over-Exertion and not Altitude

In October, I climber Mt. Hoffman to test out of theory that maybe I don't have altitude sensitivity at all.

And I go into a great bit of detail about it here:

On Black Friday (Day after Thanksgiving) I did go snowshoeing at Mt. Shasta just to verify this theory that it's not altitude at all but working at too high of a heart rate.  This is a trail I know well and I always seem to have trouble around 7200' to the point that I could tell you the elevation without having to look at my gps.  That day I climbed to 7600' before turning around due to the weather deteriorating, but I had my verification.  At no point in time did I hit the wall   I had to stop often to let my heart rate come back down as it would want to climb over 150 very easily, but doing so made it so that I could easily climb it with no energy taking leave of my muscles.

As I said in the previous post this is life changing and now I have something I can train for.  It was so frustrating when I thought it was elevation as there is no way to train for elevation - your only hope is aclimatization.  I'm quite proud that I stuck with trying to figure this out and that finally after 10 freaking years of working on this I finally see a way through it.

There is another point that I had been noticing is that if I'm magically dropped at a higher elevation, likes taking the cable car up to Squaw High Camp at 8000' I'm fine.  If I hike up to that level I often have trouble.  Noticing that was a big clue that altitude probably isn't the problem I thought it was.

I'm now working with a training on increasing my endurance, first by running and then incorporating spin and climbing.

The trouble is that I'm perfectly happy with my heart rate going over 85%.  I've the endorphin junkie and it's proving to be quite a challenge to learn how to work more at a maintainable level.  Even today I was letting my dog tow me up Mission Peak and my HR was 160-165 and I was fine for the 2 miles we were going up, but that isn't workable for very long.  In face even on Mission Peak I may have run out of energy at that rate.  I will be routinely repeating the climb without a dog encouraging me to charge, so I'll have to see how doable this is.

My dream is to be able to climb and keep up with a group.  If I can do that then I can climb Ranier and other Washington and Oregon Mtns and maybe even some Canadian and Alaska ones.

But first lets do Mission Peak at a normal HR.