Archive for 2015 October

Hillary and Bill on the road to the White House

Don’t see Mad magazine much anymore but I think this is freaking hilarious:


Regardless of your affiliation, you get the point. Don’t mess with the Hill, that’s all.

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People of the PCT: Dirt Stew and Dormouse

About eleven months ago, I ran into a couple of thru-hikers as I approached Kennedy Meadows on the PCT. I was coming off the end of a super-hot section of the Mojave with little or no water, and they were south-bound.

In SoCal, mostly hiking earlier in the year, heading north I hadn’t met many southbounders, hadn’t seen hikers that experienced: these two looked ready for the Sahara. Or anything.

We stopped for a minute and I asked a question or two and Dormouse plopped down on the trail without a second’s hesitation to dig something out of her pack as I learned her name and her husband Dirt Stew’s. They seemed as comfortable in the raw desert wilderness as if it were their living room. I was pretty amazed by these two — sort of an exotic species for me. They made an impression and I asked a question or two.

About a month ago I ran across an excellent story about their journey that Dormouse wrote up for the PCTA Association: much of it sticks in my memory still. For instance, in Oregon for a week or two they passed hordes of northbounders. Dormouse wrote:

To them, we were a rare sighting, but to us, they seemed like an endless parade. There is something funny about the moment when a northbounder and a southbounder cross paths.  Together we have completed an entire thru-hike and yet we do not have a single shared experience of the trail. It makes for both helpful and frustrating conversations. I think hikers have selective memories, and a lot of the information we got from northbound hikers was false.

True. You have to consider the source, and realistically, on the trail you rarely can with any certainty.

Reading this put me on to their blog, which includes good journaling about their trip. Well, turns out my questions and curiousity awoke something in themselves as well, which they wrote up!

We hiked out in full ninja-hiker gear with shirts around our faces in order to protect ourselves from the sun and wind, and ran into a northbound section hiker who said “you guys must be thru-hikers”. “How’d you guess?” we asked. “Well, you look like you’ve walked almost 2000 miles!” He replied. “Can I take your picture?”. “Sure!” We answered. As he left I said to Dirt Stew: “Let’s take a picture of ourselves! It’s the first time someone’s told us we look like we’re thru-hikers who’ve hiked 2000 miles!” We snapped a picture at arm’s length and looked at ourselves on the little screen. We looked a lot like we did only 100 miles in. We were covered from head to toe so as not to get sun burned.

Here’s the picture I took of them:

Dirt Stew + Doormouse

Dirt Stew + Doormouse


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Ballet of the bats over Lake Aloha

At Lake Aloha, mile TK on the PCT, I saw a sight the likes of which I’ve never been so privileged. A ballet of bats, so to speak, dancing over the still waters of Lake Aloha, chasing I think big fat whitish moths that unaccountably flutter around the water there (or so I’ve seen).

bat over Lake Aloha

bat over Lake Aloha

The picture cannot approach the experience, but it can evidence the existence of these extraordinarily gifted flyers, and their dance over the waters, just touching now and again.

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Here’s the image that inspired scientist Bill Patzert to call a particularly epic El Niño “Godzilla.”



















See that monster lurking off Central America? With the jagged jaws and the beady little green eye?

Here’s the story that explains why that’s relevant to today. In a sentence, because 2015-2016 is looking a lot like 1997-l998. For more, see here.

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Did avoiding fats make our obesity problem worse?

Could the misunderstanding about fat have made the American problem with obesity worse?

That’s the understated implication — or an implication — of the latest version of the medical consensus on fats in the bloodstream, as defined by Frank Hu, head of Harvard’s School of Public Health, in a story by Jane Brody in the NYTimes with a clunky headline.

To quote::

Experts now realize that efforts to correct past dietary sins that made heart disease and stroke runaway killers have caused the pendulum to swing too far in the wrong direction.

“The mistake made in earlier dietary guidelines was an emphasis on low-fat without emphasizing the quality of carbohydrates, creating the impression that all fats are bad and all carbs are good,” Dr. [Frank] Hu, a professor of nutrition and epidemiology [at Harvard’s School of Public Health], said. “It’s really important to distinguish between healthy fats and bad fats, healthy carbs and bad carbs.”

But half-buried in this thoughtful framing of a complex question remains a fundamental truth. Saturated fat — butter, meat, and cheese — is dangerous to your health. .

To quote Hu — who has led huge studies of this issue — again:

He explained that saturated fat, found in fatty animal foods like meats and dairy products, raises blood levels of cholesterol and is not healthy,

What follows is a discussion of alternatives, and the alternatives are worthy and great in fact, but having written a contrarian story about another misunderstanding of medical research into fats a year ago , may I say I feel vindicated in listening to and focusing on the work of researchers such as Hu and David Katz, of Yale and the journal Childhood Obesity, who continue to warn that saturated fat is not your friend.

Butter curl

Butter curl


No matter how pretty.

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Internet erodes the interview: Chuck Klosterman

Fascinating insight on the 21st century and the interview in reporting and writing from a Q & A with Chuck Klosterman:

ChuckKlostermanI feel like in general that the art of the interview has been eroded by the rise of the Internet. It’s taken away the necessity of [doing them] but it still seems to me like interviews are the central part of the investigation of anything. The key is asking questions that you actually want to know the answer to, as opposed to asking the questions that you think you are supposed to as a reporter. The person you’re interviewing can tell if you’re actually interested in the question. If the person is asking stupid, predictable questions, you know that the piece is going to be predictably structured. It’s almost like you’re doing a paint by number.

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Neil Young keeps on rocking — past the curfew

Missed Neil as he passed through SoCal this past week, and regret it — Rolling Stone says this is his best tour in “decades,” and for good measure throws in a video of an epic 17-minute version of what some consider his greatest song Cortez the Killer.

But my fave review I’ve seen from this tour comes from the Independent in Santa Barbara. It’s long, but the opening and closing are too strong (and too unique) to go unnoticed:

Let’s be real. There’s a good chance human civilization has about half a century left until we render the world inhospitable. It’s almost impossible to imagine a way in which we could disentangle ourselves from the gridlock of our unsustainable ways in time to meet the needs of unborn billions, or in time to put the brakes on a rapidly accelerating climate shift. Certainly not, at least, when so much power seems to rest in the hands of a greedy few, or in the hands of a populace too afraid or too numbed to disturb the peace.


“Look at mother nature on the run in the twenty-first century,” Young sang at the show’s opening. Who knows if this kind of protest rock really moves mountains, or just makes us feel like we can; but it is heartening to know that there is someone bearing witness at the very least, should we look upon these times and see missed opportunities in our policies and lifestyles. Young, in his undying rock spirit, asks us to be more, to give our children the promise of something more real and something more free, and that night, he gave us a very real hope that we still can.

Thanks, Richie DeMaria. (Who points out Young will pay a fine for exceeding the curfew at the Santa Barbara Bowl.) And here’s another of his classics, a much shorter song, from this tour. For some reason this version — despite the handheld quality — gives me chills.

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Not climate change: Climate Rupture

As Tom Toles says in a column today:

First it was called the Greenhouse Effect, then Global Warming, then Climate Change. Each accurate enough, as far as that goes, but all woefully inadequate at conveying the catastrophe we’ve been creating.

The short column eloquently describes the extreme weather that scientists have warned us to expect with climate change, but best of all Toles proposes a new phrase/image to dramatize the disconnect that is characteristic of climage change.

Climate Rupture:



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NYC writer meets nature: The Great Surrender

A young writer lays out what it is to fall into a relationship with nature — reluctantly.

…if you had told me a decade earlier, when I was living in New York City working as a magazine editor, that I would someday move to Montana—and for a man—I would have scoffed: “What a hilarious idea.” If you had told me that by taking this leap of faith, which could have gone wrong in any number of ways, large or small, I would develop one of the most significant and sustaining, though at times frustrating, relationships of my life—with nature —I would have laughed: “Are you sure you’ve got the right girl?”

It’s nature writing for the impatient 21st century, with great pics. Via Good.


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