Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Think even bigger

The current social climate seems like a nihilistic backlash to the New Age Movement, like science is the only thing that can save us (ironically from ourselves). Thanks Bill Nye and Carl Sagan. It's almost en vogue to believe in nothing, to keep it simple and say that when we die; we die. Or whatever. Our lives are for enjoyment, for ambition, for love maybe, or for no reason at all. It's a lot to break off, what is the point anyway?

It's kind of odd how huge a concept that is, and yet how little people talk about it, (regardless of how much they actually think about it.) What's the point of all this? I say looking around at a cup of coffee, some work notes, a basket of laundry and a UFO poster. Such a huge question. It's funny to say it and look at the minutia that glares back.

Bill Nye used to be cute and quirky with his bow tie. Now I find him imperiously rigid. Telling someone, anyone how and what to think is dogmatic. I think Evolutionists can be as pig-headed as Creationist. And I'd like to posit that they might both be wrong!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

i102fly for real!

This was a few weeks back, but whatever. My friend Olga is one of the most quality people I know, add to that fact, she flies planes which pretty much makes her a superwoman. I got to go up with her as she accompanied a Spanish guy getting his flight hours.

Flight plans and maps. Charted destination: the desert no San Luis Obispo or Santa Maria no San Luis. Kind of amazed how easy it is to switch up the route as we sit here on the couch in the Van Nuys Airport office a gigantic tub of pretzels passed between us.

The plane is finally ready. Olga supervises the checks. Pol fills out the paper work. We cuddle up in the cockpit...

.. all 2 square feet of it.

me super excited to take off.

My first time in a cessna and I have to say it was pretty intense when we took off. I got real butterflies as we rattled this tiny thing down the runway, the end of the airport fast approaching and this itty little box starting to hover off the ground. And as we ascended the first hundred feet or so, it felt like we could drop off any second.

...in flight


...cockpit group photo. 
Relaxing and doing no work back there, while the pilots drop us down into  Santa Maria.

This is a climbing location that I frequent from the sky! Stoney Point. This will tell you all you need to know about this legendary location.  

Highlight as we come in high - Olga says, "Don't worry these things drop like a sack of potatoes!" Great confidence as we come down for the landing.

So where are we going next?

Thursday, November 20, 2014


Some nights when I'm arm deep in web design, I'll put on a documentary in the background and zone out to the blare of scientific studies and talking heads. In the moment, nothing shines the dullness of computer work, like some food for thought.

The other night I found something random on reincarnation - one of my favorite topics.

There are some really compelling cases out there that suggest the existence of reincarnation. These are the ones that I liked:

A fire chief from Connecticut was checking out some historic Civil War sites.
He had a complete and uncharacteristic breakdown for no reason in a ditch along the road. 
Later he found a booklet with a Civil War general's picture that looked just like him. 
Then he found out the general was shot right in the ditch where he'd collapsed.

 (She looks a lot like her, dont you think?)

 As a child in Sweden, Barbro Kalen had nightmares with soldiers and 
uniforms terrified her. She though her name was Anne and 
remembered details about this past life even though the Diaries of Anne Frank 
had not been published in Sweden at the time.  At 10 she visited Amsterdam 
with her parents and knew her way around the neighborhood without a map. 
She pointed out changes that were made to the Anne Frank house 
when it was converted to a museum. Barbo had a knack for writing. 
She had her first book published at the age of 12. 
Anne Frank's cousin in Switzerland met Barbro 
and even he believed her to be AF's reincarnation.

I just got a book from the library on the topic. It makes me wonder if I've had a past life or if you have? Sometimes there are strange tendencies, affinities or the opposite that make you think, hmm I must've encountered this before.

For example, I'm not afraid of heights; I'm not afraid of animals or a tragic death or stabbing or buglers. But I can easily conceive of drowning. When I'm at the bottom of a pool swimming around with two lungs full of air, it doesn't matter; I feel like I'm one moment away from watching it all fade away. I can easily imagine the diluted sky above waffling out in a blur. There's no good explanation. I grew up at the lake; I've been swimming all my life without any incident. It's just a gut reaction.

If you are reading, do you have any assumptions about a past life?

Wednesday, October 29, 2014


San Andres Fault runs through this blog post. Ever wonder what that actually looks like. I have, ever since this song at camp when I was a wee one. And I am pleased to announce it's not a giant soul echoing abyss. There is the opportunity for soul searching in the presence of these unusual rock structures. Jetting out of the fault's fissure, they are at least menacing enough to earn the name Devil's Punchbowl. 

Trekking down one side of the hill into the bowl, you can actually intimately hear what's happening on the other side. I could hear a guy's heavy breathing from probably half a football field away. On that note, why do we always use football fields as yardsticks? Like this game is that entrenched in the common psyche. I met a Texan who called me a liar when I said I didn't watch football. I guess I do, I just don't know it.

The best thing to do in this punchbowl is not listen to heavy breathing, go to the library for that. *
Clearly the Devil has designated this area for rock climbing.

Sandstone is a little blah. The slab walls get mentally challenging, but the grit of the sand gives you enough sticking power to surprise yourself.

Meanwhile the shoes are getting sanded, which is cruel and unusual.

The funniest thing about climbing here is the natural stadium seating across the way on the hiking path. Hikers enjoy watching the climbs and clap when you get to the top. Gives you that extra feeling of heroics.

This corner route was an excellent place for trad newbies like Aric and I to practice gear placement. It's a mixed route. There are bolts along the wall, but they are around 10 to 20 feet apart, so if you fall it would be a long way down. Placing the spring loaded cams in the cracks, puts the protection closer together and if you place them wrong and fall, the backup bolts will catch you to prevent a complete free fall. Anyway, that sounds pretty horrific I'm sure to a non-climber, but a good relatively safe stepping stone for someone wanting to climb in the Sierras. That's me.

BHD getting over the crux. Coming on the face of this was so hard, because there was nothing at all to hold on to.

Back tat ... off.

That's proof that I was there pulling the rope. Actually this was the most nerve wracking part of the day. We had two routes set up side by side. We were cleaning up for the day. I taught Aric how to rappel down on one rope, so he went down. Then a hundred feet up, I had to get to the other rope to take it down, but I had no way to get over there. So I had to suck it up and climb over without any rope or anything attached to me. Hope the mother isn't reading this.

(pics & *miles)

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Alex Honnold

If you have watched 60 minutes or any sensationalized TV news recently, you've probably heard of Alex Honnold. He's the super mellow, Sacramento-native, who's been living out of a van for years, climbing the vertical cliffs of Yosemite... without a rope. In the rock climbing world, he's like a demigod. Even the people who hate him are in awe. They think he's not long for this world, and man I hope they are wrong. But what human never makes a mistake. How long can you continue to gamble on absolutely zero human error at 2000 feet?

Vertigo about ready to commence:

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

the art of ice climbing

see that double entendre there.

With the season change, I keep thinking about getting back up to the mountains. Before the leaves are gone, we must get one more camp, one more cold morning around the campfire.

Ice climbing season is coming too; time will tell how warm of a winter it is, but if the falls are frozen, we are going to strap up. Maybe these sketches will get you inspired for some cold weather adventures. What is endearingly called: a suffer-fest!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

maps, polar exploration, and scurvy

I've been back at my map series, just finishing my latest on polar exploration after reading: Albanov's journey, Shackleton's voyage (even though it was the Antarctic), Nansen, and seems like there was one more. This map is lightly based on those journeys on foot around the polar areas of Franz Josef Land, Svalbard, Novaya Zemlya in the Barents Sea.

I posted this picture on instagram and got linked back to all of these awesome maps! Map heaven. Indulge me.

From left to right: @jenmfarrell_, @patriciacrowther78, @all_about_them_books, @seannasbooks, @livros.by.ropis, @lilyandbooks, @travel_books_life, @bookswithdylan, @ughfiction

Thursday, September 25, 2014


This is a ode to Dan ™ Wang.

The web is a place for pretenses, pretty things, and the shiny side of life, especially blogs. Bringing reality into focus is maybe not something we turn to the web for, but reality it is. Shit has certainly reigned. Two weeks ago, we lost a great friend; and at the risk of being too personal, forthright, whatever, I'd like to take a minute to immortalize him on the web.

Ro and I met Dan at a birthday party four or five years ago. He was awkwardly standing around, and when the dancing started, he awkwardly danced along. His gumption to join in the dancing while being so painfully self-aware made him instantly likable and highly relate-able. As we began to see him at numerous social occasions, it became clear that despite his discomfort in social situations, Dan was quite possibly the most social person we'd ever met. He was always leaving the party/movie premiere/New Years celebration/dinner to run to another function. We enjoyed giving him a hard time whenever he tried to make an exit. 

He was a part of innumerable, and I do mean innumerable, social and environmental activist groups.  The Occupy Movement, Non-GMO advocacy, the community garden, city beautification, the yoga center, Burning Man, the list has no end. I have no idea how he was able to be involved in so many diverse projects.... But he was a doer and a believer in community. He was always frustrated by the complacency and isolation of those around him.  Whether he knew it or not, he had a huge community; people came out en masse for him at the memorial held at the garden last weekend.  

The crowd was as diverse as his range of interests. Any given topic would take steroids when he entered the conversation. Chatting could take an abrupt left turn and end up considering web-savvy Afghan weavers who listen to rockabilly or anarchist post punk (that was a real conversation).  He worked in computers, so Ro and he often splintered off into riveting conversations about Linux and remote servers. His embrace of all things nerdy, computer software, Simpsons, Burn Notice clashed well with his ride: a loud, but Eco-friendly motorcycle. 

Coming out of the memorial I was inspired by two strongly positive thoughts. First, it is hard not to take notice of  Dan's vigilance and consistency. In millions of small ways, he worked to make his community and the world a better place, one parking lot, one sign, one label at a time. Secondly, as we all traded stories and stepped back to see him from this twisted perspective, I was again inspired by his sometimes comical, but always constant individuality. How many bread-baking Led Zeppelin and acid metal rocking, pothead Chinese-American, environmental biker activists gardeners do you know... only one. 

You are free to be who you are. Dan lights the way.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

one little cloud

Death ends a chapter or begins another, it's never just a text-heavy page. For how much time people spend thinking about dying, it might as well be an errand to run or a TiVo episode to watch. Probably yet another reason why, when it happens, expected or not, it's always shocking.  

Its presence dominates the psyche like a master ninja, striking hard and retreating to invisibility. The aftermath is a tornado of loose thoughts, unchained emotions, and shifting perspectives. Expressing grief (or not) is as disorienting. 

Memories start to playback on a constant reel. Alone or together, so many details come to the surface. Taking stock of all those quirks, th  important and the nonsense on equal ground, is cathartic and seems honorable, sending off a soul with respect and recognition of all that happened here. 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Landscape Art Print on Society6

I had some requests, so I finally got some of my travel landscapes up on Society6. As far as frame + print goes, the price cant be beat. Most of these are from last summer when I put almost 6000 miles on my car(s), stretched my vagabond muscle, got real intimate with cruise control.

My brother came to visit, and I gave him the grand tour of California including Yosemite, Big Sur and the Californian coast. Then my friend Mie and I drove from Virginia to back to California mapping a ton of locales I'd always wanted to see, including Colorado, New Orleans, and Utah.

These landscape squares would look super chic in your bathroom!