Archive for January, 2010

Learning the Ropes without a Rope


Robi Brendon in Zürs backcountry, Austria

A Ski Mountaineering Adventure
By Randall Richards

Mountaineering, and ski mountaineering mishaps that don’t kill you are chalked up to experience – a learning experience. I had one such experience in Lech and Zürs Austria when working for Strolz Boots G.m.B.H. I was still a greenhorn in the Alps. The Alps was a whole other ball game than the mountains of the western U.S. This was my first year in the Alps

I was just graduated from the University of Utah where I’d spent three years getting a basic, but great  mountaineering education through the U of U recreation department with such climbers and teachers as Harold Goodro and Dennis Turville.  It’s here where I cut my teeth, the Wasatch Range, in beginning rock climbing and mountaineering, snow shelter building and backcountry emergency medicine classes. Harold was the consummate old mountain man.

The author getting "mountain experience", Austria

In the late seventies, he was involved in teaching all the classes, and would observe other instructors manage the top rope sites. But he was always hands-on.  On another day in my education there,  I remember ascending Stairs Gulch with other Utah students under the tutilage of Dennis Turville. Our little group of neophytes were wide-eyed at one point on the ascent, when a few auto-sized blocks of snow and ice came tumbling down the slabs, bowling for students. Two in the group, by running this way and that, managed to avoid being mowed over. Dennis seemed somewhat nonplussed by the event, but that might have just been my perception at the time. Later on the narrow ridge which divides Big and Little Cottonwood, we carefully picked our way up to the summit of Dromedary Peak. Our eyes were still bugging out of our heads for the rest of the day due to exposed terrain and our lack of experience.  We were quickly getting our mountain legs.

Fast forward to the Lectaler Alps in Western Austria. I usually had most of the day to explore the wild mountains above and around Zürs, St. Christophe and Lech on skis and out of bounds, having to report at the Strolz ski boot shop in Lech around 3pm.  It was my first experience where the ski area trails and the high backcountry merged into one big ski experience. I went nuts, cutting it up, (more…)

Why We Need Live Music, #3


Quote From: Ellis Paul’s Discussion Board

Artist and Audience Create the Event?

“Some people are born to make great art and others are born to appreciate it. It is a kind of talent in itself, to be an audience, whether you are the spectator in the gallery or you are listening to the voice of the world’s greatest soprano. Not everyone can be the artist. There have to be those who witness the art, who love and appreciate what they have been privileged to see.” — Ann Patchett in Bel Canto.

Thanks to Michael Thoma for sending this quote.

I add that music performances are about entrainment rather than entertainment. Whether you are the audience or the performer, it’s the energy between the two that make the event happen. A lot of new performers hesitate, or would-be performers never get up on stage,  because they think they have to be perfect. Yes, having some technical expertise to make it sound kind of good is important, so the audience enjoys the sound, but far more important is the intention of whoever is on stage. For that reason I say,  stand up and be counted as a musician, regardless of your ability.

When I show new guitar players a few chords to get them going, I always tell them the first rule in music is to have fun. The second rule is to make is sound good if you can, just so the cat doesn’t climb the walls. And the third rule is never let a grouchy music teacher, or someone that criticizes you because they don’t get the entrainment principle,  ruin rule number one. More on entrainment in music or sound? For more, read this , or this.

This Just In Department


A Thought for 2010…..

Leadership under sail

“The pessimist complains about the wind.
The optimist expects it to change.
The leader adjusts the sails.”
John Maxwell

Thanks to Rhonda Gurney. Keep up the good work Rhonda! Along the same lines,
check out:
New Hampshire Humanities Council‘s Civility Tour.

Geoglyphs Discovered Beneath Clearcut Amazon


by Stephen Messenger,
Porto Alegre, Brazil

Difficult to see from the ground,geoglyphs go unnoticed by locals

With the aid of satellite imagery from Google Earth, soon archeologists in Brazil will be finding more and more large geometric designs carved into the ground in the Amazon rainforest. The geoglyphs are believed to have been sculpted by ancient people from the Amazon region around 700 years ago, though their purpose is still unknown. So far, nearly 300 geoglyphs have been identified, but with advances in satellite imaging–and increased clearing of the jungle coverage–scientists are hoping to discover many more of these strange, geometric designs. Read the rest of this story
Photo via Diego Gurgel

Songwriter in an Airport


By: Heather Poole

The Airport Singer: Josh Wilson

Josh Wilson a Singer/Songwriter signed to Sparrow Records was stuck in an airport recently.
“I’m always saying, “This is your life, enjoy it — even if you’re stuck at an airport!”
HP:It looks like you know how to do just that based on your popular video that’s making the rounds. So where were you traveling to the day of the Newark Security Breach?
JW:I was headed to Mumbai, India with my wife and some others.
I saw the video after someone forwarded it to me. They actually found it on Alyssa Milano’s Twitter Feed.
HP: What inspired you to do the sing-along?
JW:Things had gotten really tense in the terminal. We were at about the six hour mark in terms of the delay. Some kids were crying near us and I wanted to cheer them up and maybe get everyone else to relax a little. Someone in our group said I should break out my guitar, and after a little convincing I did. But in that situation, it’s only safe to play the Beatles. Anything else would have led me to being pelted by luggage
HP: Have you ever played for a crowd of passengers before?
You know, as a musician at some point you feel you’ve played every possible type of gig.  But I do think it was my first airport performance. Read the rest of this story

Heather Poole is a flight attendant for a major US carrier. She lives in California and works in New York.

A Good Spanish Vocabulary Site


By R. Richards
If you’re looking for a good website which has, among other things,  a good list of human anatomy in Spanish, (it comes in handy when visiting a doctor in Peru), visit this: This link (which is actually, whatever that is) takes to you the Human Anatomy page. On the left look for titles that will take you any direction you wish  to head: Pronunciation Lessons, Numbers, Time, Date, Verbs, Verb Tenses, Verb Conjugation, Grammar, Gender, Grammar Terms, Pronouns, Reflexive, Vocabulary, Adjectives, Noun Cognates, Prepositions, as well as Verb Lists, and Vocabulary Lists

I need all the help I can get. Even after 12 years of working in South America my Spanish has been called “Tarzan Spanish” by a friend of mine.  The two-week Spanish school in Baños, Ecuador wasn’t a complete education.  In fact, my Spanish is probably a bit worse than it was earlier because I come and go for a few months at a time. Icommunicate OK, but I need drastic help with my verb tenses and sentence structure.  There  is hope, however.

Spanish Through Pictures, my favorite

Other resources which have help me in the past: Spanish Through Pictures, by I.A. Richards, (no relation) which is out of print. We may publish this as an online version, pending permissions. I have a hunch that the Rosetta Stone computer program (which is excellent) may have gotten its ideas from the book series by Richards published in the 1950’s.

The ‘Fat Map’


Putting World Hunger Into Perspective
From: The Huffington Post
By Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein
Hunger now scars the lives of over 1 billion people — a new record. Today, Monday the 16th, world leaders will gather at a UN food summit in Rome to debate what to do about it. As a former Goodwill Ambassador for the World Food Program, I sense how the meeting may go.

Per capita calorie consumption, nation by nation. By: World Food Program

There will be more media attention on the politicians than on the issues, an abundance of speeches, and a series of oddly fancy luncheons — with more speeches. At a similar luncheon, I remember wondering:  Read the rest of this article

Bottled Water: The Real Story


The Real Story

Too many bottles, The new faux pas

I recently received a flyer in the mail from Food and Water Watch, with the title: “America’s water should belong to each of us, not the companies that bottle and sell it. Not the corporations that want to privatize is. Take the pledge to protect your right to clean safe drinking water. Here’s what I’ve learned.

American consumers drink more bottled water every year, in part because they think it is somehow safer or better than tap water. They collectively spend hundreds or thousands of dollars more per gallon for water in a plastic bottle than they would for the H20 flowing from their taps.

Rather than buying into this myth of purity in a bottle, consumers should drink from the tap. Bottled water generally is no cleaner, or safer, or healthier than tap water. In fact, the federal government requires far more rigorous and frequent safety testing and monitoring of municipal drinking water. Read more

Bottled Water: Illusions of Purity : Not safer than tap water
Bottled water manufacturers are good at implying things. With glossy ads and labels depicting quiet mountain streams, a consumer is led to believe what they’re drinking is healthier than what comes from the tap. But chances are it’s not. In fact, municipal water is more tightly regulated than bottled water. (more…)