Archive for 2013 October

A changing California: Lyell Glacier melting away

Climb it before it melts away, suggests Barney Brantingham of Santa Barbara's Independent:

"Barney-at-Mount-Lyell-Yosemite-1980s_t180(In the 30-plus years since my son Barclay and I trekked Mount Lyell’s snowy flanks, it’s been melting, not as fast as a vanilla ice cream cone in the summer Sierra sun, but melting.

Lyell Glacier’s retreat has speeded up since 2000, says Yosemite geologist Greg Stock. “Eventually, there’ll be nothing left.” But Barclay and I had no sense that we were climbing against time, on a glacier silently dwindling beneath our boots. Scientists say the glacier will vanish in about 20 years, victim of that ol’ devil climate change."

(It's a lovely reminiscence and essay, and makes me want to go…but for today, drier slopes.)

"When the glacier is gone, a vital water source for Lyell Canyon will go with it, affecting plants and animals that live there now.

Even if you don’t get to the glacier, it’s a beautiful hike through a broad valley within earshot of the rippling stream. I’ve been back a couple of times for short hikes from Tuolumne Meadows, crossing short bridges over trickling creeks. Next time you’re up there, take a walk in the sun."

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Good news: Coen brothers to bring folk scene to life

While I'm on the trail, let me shamelessly plug the upcoming Coen Brothers movie, which sounds utterly irresistibly to folk music lovers. 

Some say it's good (from a review at Cannes via The Playlist):

Arguably the least plot driven film from the Coens since "The Big Lebowski," which still provided the journey for a new carpet as the Macguffin of sorts, "Inside Llewyn Davis" is even more freeform, but never out of the Coens' grasp. The film unfolds over what turns about be roughly a week or so in the life of Llewyn, and follows his attempts to put some order to the chaos in his life. And it's a tough week: Jean reveals he's pregnant with his child; he's saddled carrying the Gorfeins' cat after it escapes out the door, and accidentally locks the door behind him after staying the night (a great running gag that eventually turns into a lovely metaphor for Llewyn's journey); he's chasing payments from Legacy and trying to line up some gigs. A road trip later in the picture offers a change of pace, but this is a slice of life of one of many trying to make it on the folk circuit, and the Coens capture every detail, acknowledging their fondness for their era, while being able to laugh at it as well (though without getting as broad as Christopher Guest's "A Mighty Wind," the last major folk movie).

Gotta love that classic folk song, produced by the irresistible T-Bone. 

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Exposure can kill you: Slaves of the Internet, Unite!

Sometimes a headline is enough, but this op-ed — Slaves of the Internet, Unite! — by Tim Kreider makes so much sense, it's sad that (as he more or less admits) he won't be heeded.
Quote of the weekend:

…the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge. I now contribute to some of the most prestigious online publications in the English-speaking world, for which I am paid the same amount as, if not less than, I was paid by my local alternative weekly when I sold my first piece of writing for print in 1989.

From my perspective, it's amazing how hard you have to fight to get paid freaking peanuts. 

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On the way to Walker Pass: PCT Section F

After six murderous weeks — covering the trial of Alex Medina in Ventura — I'm talking a few days off to repair my soul. Here's where I'm heading: Walker Pass (in the southern Sierra). 


Yes, it'll be this dry, if not drier. But have scheduled some posts to entertain you all, I hope.

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How to miss San Francisco and the Bay Area

See a picture like this:


via Google Earth Pics. 

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State cuts budget for earthquake maps, imperiling CA

For the past few weeks, the LA Times has led in its big Sunday editions with stories revealing how the city of Los Angeles and the state of California have turned a blind eye to seismic risk, despite many urgents warnings from scientists. 

To wit: 

After the 1971 Sylmar earthquake, California began an ambitious effort to map faults across the state.

Over the next two decades, officials published 534 maps of active earthquake faults. New construction was prohibited on top of these fissures because previous quakes showed that buildings could be torn apart during violent shaking.

But the mapping campaign has slowed to a crawl — with many dangerous faults still undocumented.

For the same paper, Ted Rall tells the same story — entertainingly.

In my experience, the more you read about seismic risk in CA, the more you are likely to freak out. 

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I can’t pretend to be interested in your books: Chekhov

A Times review of a"Seagull" set in Ireland during the time of "the Troubles" doesn't love the production but brings its wit out lovingly nonetheless.

Among the production’s freshest scenes is the brief colloquy between the bluntly bitter Mary and Aston. Mary’s no-nonsense approach to the impossibility of finding lasting love is in contrast to the other characters’ fretful idealism. As Mr. Kilroy’s excellent if sometimes overly loquacious adaptation clarifies, she is the rare character in the play granted true and thorough self-knowledge.

“I can’t pretend to be interested in your books,” she tells Aston, “but I’d love if you’d send me copies of them from time to time with my name inscribed.” Then she adds: “Don’t write something flowery and poetic, though. That wouldn’t be right, would it, for someone like me.”  

And what a gorgeous looking production! Like a living painting:


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El Nino will not save you — sorry SoCal: Patzert

Must say it's been a lovely warm weekend…even if dry as heck. Perhaps we should get used to that. Last week William Patzert, the well-known oceanographer and climate expert, dropped some knowledge on on reporter Melinda Burns re: an upcoming "rainy" season in California.

Her story is called Dry with a Chance of Drier, and it's a warning especially for Southern Californians.  

    “There’s definitely no El Niño going to gallop over the horizon and save you,” Patzert says, referring to the climatic conditions in the Pacific Ocean that favor biblical rains. “A dry decade every once in awhile is good, because it makes you rethink your water usage and your future.”

We've all heard of biblical rains, but how often in comparison biblical droughts? 

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A look at precipitation anomalies from this month’s data

PRISM, which graphically displays climate data as part of a new "risk management' effort from the USDA, has introduced a new site that allows us amateurs to see what is going on, including (if so chosen) anomalous climate behaviors. 

Here's this month's anomalous precipitation, charted:


SoCal had a smidge of rain, but so far doesn't look like good news for the West. Via John Fleck.

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“The Wild Effect” — will it ruin the PCT?

From a thoughtful Times story about the Pacific Crest Trail, and what Wild and Reese Witherspoon will mean for its future:

The Wild Effect may be just beginning. More readers are finding the book, which appeared in paperback in March. And a film adaptation of “Wild” starring Reese Witherspoon, being filmed now in Oregon, promises to put the story, and the trail, before an even larger national audience.


Some trail observers predicted that the Pacific Crest Trail will likely experience its version of “the Bryson bump,” a jump in hikers who attempt the whole trail similar to the surge in popularity the Appalachian Trail experienced after Bill Bryson’s best-selling 1998 book, “A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail.” And the number of Americans on the El Camino de Santiago pilgrimage hike through Spain surged 200 percent in the year after it was featured in the 2011 movie “The Way” starring Martin Sheen, a tourism official said.

“The ‘Wild Effect,’ I think, is going to be long-term,” Mr. Haskel said.

Donna Saufley is a former board member of the Pacific Crest Trail Association who with her husband, Jeff, runs Hiker Heaven, a no-charge hostel in Agua Dulce, Calif., that is famous among thru-hikers.

“I’m grateful for the awareness that the book has created about the trail,” Ms. Saufley said. “People don’t care about what they don’t know about. The trail needs, and wilderness needs, as much support as it can get. And if it gets people outdoors and moving and exploring, that’s very positive.”

Agreed. Lots of folks have negative associations about celebrities and don't want them horning in on the scene, but in my experience, be it a little town (Ojai) or a cause, they tend to help. Perhaps it'll be the same with backpacking the PCT.  

The writer of this story quoted almost no one worried about it. According to this well-crafted story, few if any worried much about more people on the trail. I wouldn't send them to Secret Camp, but I'd like to see Reese on the trail. Here's Secret Camp. Guessing allowed. 


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