Archive for the ‘Rants’ Category

A Tragedy in the Gulf of Mexico

Thursday, May 6th, 2010
Hiker playing Native American Indian flute on the arctic coastal plain, Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), Alaska.

Playing a Native American Indian flute on the arctic coastal plain, Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), Alaska. Please click on the image to view a larger version of the photo.

Hey Folks,

I’ve been wanting to write for the last week about the current Gulf Oil disaster, but haven’t really been quite sure what to say. There are simply so many tangents to this mess that I’ve not known where to start. The deaths of 11 people seem, unfortunately, to fade into the melée of concern about big oil, political ineptness, poisoned ecosystems, fathomless litigations, ad infinitum. The web we weave seems larger than the spread of oil.

It makes sense, to me, to start at home. The reality is that this catastrophe stares us right in the eyeball. The mirror reflects our own lives – I drive a car, I love my gore-tex and silnylon tents, my synthetic-fill jacket, my polycarbonate cameras. I eat fresh bananas and whole grain breads shipped here from afar. My computer was flown directly from Shanghai, China. The world I live in is a fossil fuel world. That world includes crude oil belching from the ocean floor into the Gulf of Mexico, and on to Gaia knows where.

So I bear responsibility in this mess; I want cheap gasoline, cheap oil. I complained about the soaring gasoline prices just 2 years ago. I failed to demand that the federal government not exempt BP from an environmental impact study. I failed to demand that Minerals Management Services mandate a remote-control shut-off switch on all drilling operations. I failed to demand that the oil industry follow the strictest, safest procedures possible. (more…)

Free Photos – bull elk photo

Tuesday, April 6th, 2010
Bull Elk bugling, Jasper National Park, Canada.

Bull Elk bugling, Jasper National Park, Canada.

Hey Folks,

I had another photo request for free use of my images today; they come in pretty regularly, it seems, particularly for wildlife and landscape photography. We nature lovers obviously love what we do, and so must have a desire to give our work away for free. How can we not?

I’ll be the first to admit it folks; these are tough times, for buyers and sellers alike. There’s no denying that truth. I thought I’d try to find some kind of compromise here. I always like to develop a relationship with someone who may potentially pay for my work, and I also wanted to help these people out – theirs is a just and worthwhile cause. And hey, maybe helping these folks out might provide the impetus for some real economic activity in the world? I hoped to do my bit to help the economy get rolling, my own little stimulus plan, if you will (I still can’t believe the government got away with labeling theirs a ‘stimulus package‘). At the same time, I didn’t really want to give away my work for free. What to do?

I tried to explain to the person on the phone; I listened closely, and sympathized – “yes, I realize you’re a non-profit organization, but  my business, on the other hand, is NOT a non-profit“. This didn’t clarify things, apparently.

A different tact:  “Well, you see, my rent doesn’t go down according to the charity work that your business does, and the food I eat doesn’t become free simply because I did a good deed for the day“. We got nowhere. (more…)

The Baker River and Bob Marley

Saturday, February 6th, 2010
Waterfalls, Baker River, Rio Baker, Patagonia, Chile.

Waterfalls, Baker River, Rio Baker, Patagonia, Chile. Click the thumbnail to see a larger version.

Hey Folks

“How many rivers do we have to cross, Before we can talk to the boss, eh?” – Bob Marley, “Burnin and Lootin'”.

Today, Feb 6th, 2010, is the 65th anniversary of Bob Marley’s birthday. Bob is one of my highest musical heroes, and this tune, of all his great songs, is probably the one that I love the most. So, in honor of the great Bob Marley, here’s a version of his classic ‘Redemption Song‘ that I recorded a few years back with my friend Steve on vocals.

[display_podcast]

I thought this photo would be a fitting accompaniment. This photo is of the waterfall on the Baker River, beginning of a series of Class 5 and Class 6 rapids through an unbelievable canyon. (more…)

Is Facebook the online version of Walmart?

Sunday, November 15th, 2009

A beaver (Castor canadensis) hauling willow back to his lodge, Wrangell - St. Elias National Park and Preserve, Alaska.

Beaver, (Castor canadensis), hauling willow back to his lodge for the winter, Wrangell – St. Elias National Park and Preserve, Alaska.

Hey Folks,

You undoubtedly heard the news; today’s bling is Social Networking. You need to be on Facebook and you need to Tweet (loud and often). You need people to Digg your Flickrworld, you need to be Linked In, Hooked Up and Decked Out. You need to do this because you can’t afford not to, because everyone else is doing it, and because if you want to get ahead in life, to succeed, you need to do what everyone else is doing. Right?

It’s true, so I jumped right in. In the last few months I’ve opened the pages of Facebook and Tweeted my first Tweet, and just this week started a Flickr photo account. Additionally, my guiding business, Expeditions Alaska, is now Linked In. Social networking, I’ve been instructed, is the key to my future success and now, after wrapping up a summer of hiking and backpacking in the mountains, I’m giving it a shot.

It’s an interesting and somewhat challenging process. You don’t need me to write about the ways in which successful folks engage this ‘social networking’, as this has been covered elsewhere far more effectively than I might manage. The topic here is the pervasive, engulfing nature of such sites as Twitter and Facebook, etc. According to their stats page Facebook has more than 300 million active users (irony of the term ‘users’ duly noted). (more…)

Environmental Discourse – a rant.

Tuesday, November 10th, 2009

Trash bottles and construction equipment on construction site, Marietta, Atlanta, Georgia

Trash bottles and construction equipment on construction site, Marietta, Atlanta, Georgia

Hey Folks,

A word (or rant) about ‘pragmatists’.

How often do we hear people cloak their position in this language, smother their position and use the veil of ‘realism’ as a cover for rationale? The phrase “well, sure, that’s too bad, but we need to be pragmatic .. “ is so often merely an attempt to preserve the status quo. Rather than reach a little further, push a little harder, get a little creative, or honestly examine ourselves and the lives we lead, we fall back on language like “realistic” and “pragmatic” – neither of which solve a problem, and, ironically, express a position often seated on neither pragmatism or realism.

Conversations around environmental issues seem to invoke this veil all too often; “we’d love to leave the caribou alone, and let them roam on the coastal plain, but we need to be practical – realistically, we need oil.” An entire platform was built around this excuse for an unwillingness to change that supporters labelled “Wise Use” – it’s nonsense. (more…)

Mt. Blackburn and John Muir

Monday, October 26th, 2009

Mt. Blackburn in alpenglow, early fall, Wrangell - St. Elias National Park, Alaska.
Mt. Blackburn stands tall to catch the sun’s first rays of alpenglow, high above the Kennicott Valley, early fall, Wrangell – St. Elias National Park, Alaska.


Hey Folks,

I just visited my friend Mark Graf’s great blog, and read with interest his commentary on mountains and the import and grandeur of nature, the role it can play in our lives. Mark prefaces his post with the legendary John Muir, so I’ll do the same:

“Walk away quietly in any direction and taste the freedom of the mountaineer. Camp out among the grasses and gentians of glacial meadows, in craggy garden nooks full of nature’s darlings. Climb the mountains and get their good tidings, Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves. As age comes on, one source of enjoyment after another is closed, but nature’s sources never fail. – John Muir, Our National Parks, 1901”

While I think it’s a fantastic photo Mark posted, and a great post, (I’d ask that you read it and the comments that follow) I have to be the lone opponent in the discussion here;  (more…)

Orcas Killing Sea Otters

Friday, October 23rd, 2009

Orca attacking a sea otter pup in Kasitsna Bay, Alaska.

Hey Folks,

Here’s an interesting thought; there’s been a lot of discussion in Alaska on wolf and other wildlife management, particularly ‘predator management’ (aren’t ALL animals not predators of some creatures, and prey of others?), and this raises the issue of orcas (Orcinus orca) and northern sea otters (Enhydra lutris kenyoni). In more recent times, for various reasons, it appears that orcas have begun preying more heavily on northern sea otters in the Southwestern part of the otters’ range – South Central Alaska out across the Aleutian Islands. Orcas, “Wolves of the Sea”, appear to be extirpating the sea otter within this Distinct Population Segment (DPS), and this sea otter DPS is now listed as threatened on the Endangered Species Act. So, what of it? Should the ‘wildlife authorities’ fire up the choppers, Cessnas and Supercubs, hire a sniper or 2, and begin an aerial ‘predator control’ program? (more…)

Nikon Capture NX2 and Adobe CS4.

Wednesday, October 21st, 2009

A grizzly bear walking towards the camera, Katmai national park, Alaska.

Photo above extracted via Nikon Capture NX2.2.2 (more…)

Shadows and Light

Wednesday, February 18th, 2009

Snow covered spruce tree, Wrangell - St. Elias National Park, Alaska.

Hey Folks,

Here’s another photo I took on my most recent sojoun to Wrangell – St. Elias National Park, Alaska. I’d been hoping to find some scenes like this, but they’re hard to come by. Fresh snow still sitting on a spruce tree, in nice warm sunshine.  Usually, after a nice dump of snow, wind blows it off the trees before the weather clears up enough for this kind of photo. One calm evening I went up on this ridge, not a breath of air was stirring down in the forest at the cabin. But up high, the wind was blowing like crazy .. (more…)

A new day on the way.

Monday, November 10th, 2008

Northern Lights over Wrangell - St. Elias National Park, Alaska.

 

Hey Folks,

I can’t overstate the import of what the world saw this past week. For the first time ever the people of the US elected an African American president, Barack Obama, and the value that such a moment carries is immeasurable. A bare 40 years have past since Bill Russell became the first African American head coach in the NBA. 10 years ago the world saw the first black CEO of a Fortune 500 company (how ironic is it that Franklin Raines became CEO of — wait for it — Fannie Mae!!!!) There are innumerable examples of things like this all highlighting the magnitude of this moment. But perhaps none more than this one; (more…)