Monday, June 30, 2003

Postcards from the Edge
Team Sellers completed an ambitious two-day traverse of the Carter Range up in the White Mtns this past weekend. Total mileage for the hike was about 23 miles, requiring 8 hours of hiking each day. Needless to day our legs and feet, arms and shoulders groan from the effort. Our adventure began at the Wild River Campground trailhead and we used the Shelburne Trail to gain the ledgy ridgeline of Shelburne Moriah Mtn. (3735'). From there we walked over exposed ledges and slabs and through areas of alpine bog where we had to walk over bog bridges. After a prolonged gradual descent, the trail resumed an upward tilt and after brief bit we emerged on the summit of Mt. Moriah (4049'). At the summit we talked with Alfredo, a guy from Mexico who had moved to Maine many years ago and had gotten into hiking by a girlfriend. She left him, but the hiking stayed. After a rest at the summit, we pressed on - determined to get to the Imp Campsite and set up tent. When we slogged in there, tired and spent, we found out that all tent platforms were occupied and that the only option available was to sleep in the shelter with a bunch of teens from a youth group. Nope! So we turned back around and marched further onward hoping to find a patch of clear ground in amongst the dense spruce thicket that is found at these elevations. Indeed, not much further we spied a suitable clearing down behind a rock ledge near the trail, so it was there that we set up camp, ate our bagels, tuna fish, and powerbars, and bedded down for the night - weary from the 10 hard miles that we had just finished.

Morning greeted us, and by 7AM we were packed up and moving forward. After a level section of bog bridges, we reached the base of North Carter Mtn. and endured the near vertical 700' ascent to reach the summit (4530'). We took a breather, ate more powerbars, and then carried onward across the relatively level ridgeline that includes the summits of Middle Carter Mtn. (4610') and South Carter Mtn. (4430'). The ridge was primarily dense spruce, with stretches of bog bridges and some exposed stretches. It was during these exposed stretches that we were treated to the most glorious views of Mt. Washington and the entire Presidential Range. After dropping down into Zeta Pass, we had to regain the ridgeline and by 11AM we neared the summit of Carter Dome. It was here that we decided (after already hiking 5 miles) that we should make our way back to the car, and to do so (by way of the Black Angel Trail, our exit trail) we still had another 7.4 miles to go. So we decided to leave the summit of Carter Dome for another day. Here is a view of the Carter Range and gives a glimpse of the peaks and ridges we had crossed over the course of our journey.

Thursday, June 26, 2003

Iraq Update
I think this post from an Iraqi blogger living in Baghdad is interesting and illuminating and should be remembered the next time you see quotes by Iraqis in written or televised news stories.

Wednesday, June 25, 2003

Giant Sucking Sound
I hope Ross Perot's famous phrase isn't making Kreblog nervous, but outsourcing of IT jobs to lower cost countries (India in particular) is accelerating rapidly. Indeed, high speed internet, voice, and data connections have made it possible for greater outsourcing of tasks and jobs that require a desk and a computer to places outside the US - from call centers in India handling US customer service calls to the processing of insurance claims in Ghana. I've read some interesting thoughts on this trend, notably from Glenn Reynolds, about what this may mean for computer/desk jobs here at home (go here for his latest thoughts on the subject). Indeed, Glenn seems to think that many decent computer related service jobs, or service jobs involving computers/data entry will disappear much along the same lines that low level manufacturing jobs disappeared from the US in the 70s and 80s - many having been transferred overseas to lower cost operators. Interestingly enough, given the abundance of human brainpower across the globe, fast-access communications can tap into these brains wherever they may reside. Given that, it suggests that jobs which require brainpower over manpower are increasingly exportable/outsourceable - with price being the determining factor in whose brains are employed.

Which leads to the other half of the coin that Glenn mentions, and that is the jobs that will remain in demand here will be the hands on jobs that cannot be performed remotely, ie jobs that require an electrician to wire a socket in your house, or a plumber to fix your toilet, or a mechanic to fix your car. These skills cannot be transferable to foreign low cost providers because distance is the constraining factor that prevents this from happening. We will always have a need for goods and services that exist in our actual physical space and environment.

Considering that, the most secure, lucrative jobs in the future may in fact be those unglamorous jobs you see in the classifieds section of your local newspaper. In fact, it may be that we are seeing the beginnings of an up-ending of the white collar/blue collar occupational divide, where white collar service professions become commodified and in-demand manual services become glamorized. You can see examples of this I believe with regards to the explosion in popularity of the do-it-yourself mentality, from gourmet cooking, landscaping, interior design, craftwork, etc. People are rediscovering artisanal talents involving manual and physical effort. I think as the appreciation for these things has grown over the course of recent years, those who can offer up such talents as services in their local regions will find increasing opportunities to take advantage of. Indeed, learning to bake a really good loaf of bread may turn out to be the wisest career choice for the future.

Do Not Expect Anything Less
"For French writers like Kadmi-Cohen, the author of 'The American Abomination,' (1930) the threat from United States was not just economic or military. America now posed a social and cultural danger to the civilization of Europe. The greatest 'American peril' (a phrase that became commonplace in the literature) was the standardization of social life (the ancestor of today’s complaints against globalization), the thinning of the richness of human habits to the point where they could be marketable not only inside America but, because of the global reach of American capitalism, to the entire world. Hollywood movies, which, according to Georges Duhamel, were 'an amusement for slaves,' and 'a pastime for the illiterate, for poor creatures stupefied by work and anxiety,' were the Trojan horse for the Americanization of the world."


"Hamsun gave lectures about his stays in the United States at the University of Copenhagen, and then made them into a book, 'The Cultural Life of Modern America,' (1889) that was largely devoted to asserting its nonexistence. Emerson? A dealer in glib generalizations. Whitman? A hot gush of misdirected fervor. For Hamsun, America was, above all, bluster wrapped up in dollar bills. 'It is incredible how naively cocksure Americans are in their belief that they can whip any enemy whatsoever,' he wrote. 'There is no end to their patriotism; it is a patriotism that never flinches, and it is just as loudmouthed as it is vehement.'
An interesting recap in the New Yorker of over 200 years of anti-American prejudice voiced by Europeans.

Monday, June 23, 2003

Slow Food
To the sidebar, I have added some links to various foodstuff providers that I think offer some worthwhile products. Check them out if interested.

Those Swayze Ways
So my wife and I attended a friend's wedding this past weekend in Killington, Vt. It was a fun wedding reception and the DJ got it going with some cool 80's tunes. One problem though was my struggle to keep from uncorking the dirty dancing moves. You see, most of my dance floor training was gained during college at the local bar. The music was played in the basement and the dance floor was concrete and the walls were cinderblock. Fueled up on $0.75 Red Dogs and the House of Pain Boom-Shlock-Lock-Boomin', you can't help but bump and grind, certainly when there's another 100, sweaty people packed onto this tiny excuse for a dance floor. On a side note, I don't think you can really call what is displayed on today's dance floors "dancing". I mean, the Twist is a dance, the Charleston is a dance, the Swing is a dance. What people do on the dance floor nowadays is just contort around in any odd manner that appears rhythmic and in cadence with the musical beat. Its not very organized, not visually coherent (to the sideline observer), and not something that would earn its own descriptively named dance movement title (unless people agreed to call this spectacle "Drunken Metronomic Muscular Movements and Contortions"). But I digress.

So there I am on the dance floor at this wedding, and the feet and hips and hands and head are carving their own separate arcs over multiple geometric planes. And of course given the music and the beers the instinct is to break out the hip grinding moves, especially the moment Nelly sings his famous weather report. Yeah, it IS getting hot in here. And indeed I do want to take off my clothes. But then you look around and notice that there, sitting at the tables watching the dancers on the floor, are the parents of the bride, and the parents of the groom, and maybe even grandma. And oh yeah, there are little kids around here too. And then you realize you can't be doing the close quarters lambada. So you back off, and re-engage the various orbits that your limbs and extremities had previously occupied. And it goes back to being slightly more wholesome than what you had intended. Which is okay really, because the next string of songs are "Love Shack" by the B-52s; "Come on Eileen" by Dexy's Midnight Runners; and some crap by Bob Seger, and in truth only a sicko dirty dances to Bob Seger....

Friday, June 20, 2003

Coming back from lunch, I drove past a house sporting a United Nations flag. Now there's a house begging for eggs and shaving cream this upcoming Halloween.

Two Scoops
There seems to be a consistent phenomena on display at area ice cream stands - girls with cleavage serving up the cones. It probably makes a sound business move as it brings in the dads with their kids and the baseball teams, but still, it is somewhat unexpected to walk up to that little window at "GoLicks" and be greeted in this fashion.

Thursday, June 19, 2003

Can You Take Me High Enough?
Yesterday, Team Sellers ventured out into the granite hills of NH and during the course of a 10 mile trek summitted Mt. Avalon (view from) and the 4000+ ft peaks of Mt. Field (4326'), Mt. Willey (4302') (view from), and Mt. Tom (4042').
The hike was our first of the season and we had a great time. The Lady Slippers and Painted Trillium were in bloom.

Tuesday, June 17, 2003

Want to be a spy? Here's the job posting.

Monday, June 16, 2003

Many young people in Iran have taken to the streets to protest and defy the tyranny exercised by their autocratic rulers. Street battles between the protesters and Basijis (militia groups who enforce the whims of the tyrants) have taken place for several consecutive nights. Go visit Notes of an Iranian Girl for news and commentary written by a student in Tehran. Also check out these emails sent to the BBC by Iranians. A few writers express the hope that the US becomes involved - one writer wishing that cruise missiles be targeted at the Iranian intelligence ministry!

A word that needs to be eliminated from our parlance.

Coniferous Money Shot
Kreblog mentioned the cloud of pine tree pollen that enveloped the neighborhood this past weekend. I noticed the same thing. As I was mowing the lawn, a breeze picked up rather suddenly and within seconds waves of green smog poured forth from the tree cover in a volume that would make Ron Jeremy envious.

Thursday, June 12, 2003

Terminator 3: Rise of the Governor
Californians are upset with the job current governor Gray Davis is doing and an organized ballot initiative movement is underway to seek Davis' ouster and replacement. If successful, an open election would take place with multiple candidates from the major parties on the ballot. Don't be surprised if Arnold decides to run for the Republicans.

Monday, June 09, 2003

Ski Ball Exact Change Lane
I bought a roll of NH highway tokens and one of them in the bunch turned out to be from Funspot. Is this what Gov. Benson meant by forging more public/private partnerships?

Looted Iraqi Antiquities Watch
Initial reports from the hysteria mongers suggested tens of thousands of looted Iraqi treasures. The latest official count is now at 33 items.

Friday, June 06, 2003

Schemin' Demons
I think I'm sort of tired of hearing the phrase "battling my inner demons". The latest example came when I heard an interview with Jayson Blair, the NYTimes reporter who was caught fabricating quotes and information for his stories. Apparently, his struggle with his "human demons" caused him to do what he did.

What is it with all these demons everybody has got? Are kids using this line at school if they don't do their homework? "I'm sorry teach, but my inner demons prevented me from finding the square roots." Imagine if this was an acceptable traffic court defense. "Your honor, I was unaware of this before, but apparently the inner demons go after Mustang owners. There was nothing I could do. I was defenseless against their taunts. I had to go faster to appease them."

What you never hear about is somebody plagued by their inner angels. Somebody whose head is so full of blissful and joyous thoughts that they end up going berserk and doing one thousand acts of charity. Maybe that's the kind of reporter the NYTimes needs to find, however. One who's so plagued by inner angels that they can't do anything but write unbiased stories loaded with corroborated facts and attributable quotes.

Thursday, June 05, 2003

Junkyard Wars
I get the nagging suspicion that my neighbor doesn't like my trees. Or to be more specific, she doesn't like a few of my trees because they are dead and are displaying themselves in the most deceased shades of brown and black. You see, a few years ago I went crazy a-go-go over trees not native to New Hampshire. I bought saplings of a California Redwood, Sequoia, and Western Red Cedar and proceeded to raise them in flower pots in my kitchen. For one winter that was where they lived. For the next winter I constructed a coldframe out of wood and plastic sheeting and housed them there so as to get used to winter conditions. This past season they dealt with the full force and fury of a New Hampshire winter because I had taken the risk and transplanted them in my yard. Well, needless to say the Redwood, a tree suited to the cool damp climates of coastal California, is not looking at all healthy much less alive. And this brown, dead, dried out carcass is situated right in the lawn maybe 50 feet from my neighbor's driveway. So I guess everyday she pulls in she has to look at this ugly, sorry excuse for horticulture and landscaping. Oh well. I've always wanted to be the "Weirdo with the Trees", and I bet that's how she's describing me to her bridge group.

Wednesday, June 04, 2003

Need a Q-Tip
Before I realized it, I had driven about 3/4 of the way to work with the radio tuned to a weak station that was masked by the most outrageously dissonant signal interference. Funny, I thought I had been listening to some of my experimental music and didn't even notice.

Tuesday, June 03, 2003

The Man Show
I seem to be stuck at the station while the train pulls away. What I mean is, there appears to be a body of interests that pop culture suggests men my age (25-35) are specifically keen on. Consider the explosion in the publishing world of men's magazine offerings. Maxim, Stuff, FHM, etc. All are pretty much the same and all follow the same format. Pages of McNugget style factoids offering tips on how to make farting sounds come from your armpits, what Frisbee games to play with your dog, and what sexual positions to fantasize putting Lara Croft in. Then there are the softcore girlie spreads that usually feature Christina Aguilera all trussed up in a corset and boy shorts as she straddles a Sony Playstation. Speaking of which, the Sony Playstation seems to be another phenomena that I'm not embracing. I'm sorry but my gaming machine experience was with the Atari 2600. Later I got a Commodore 64 which took 10 minutes to load some 200k game which involved dragons or something. My arcade brain is running at that hertz level. So no way in hell am I going to relate to Grand Theft Auto and its gaming experience.

But that's not to say other men my age aren't embracing the Sony Playstation as the talisman of maledom. Indeed, they are in droves - much to the delight of their wives/girlfriends who I often hear complaining about this. And if there wasn't more inducement to sit in front of the TV screen, there is now a parade of shows geared toward the twenty-thirty something male that reflect a flattering universe of subject interests: remote control robots clashing in cataclysmic battle, cartoons of varying artistic merit that often reflect on flatulence and other orificial excretions, truly bizarre puppet shows where the dialogue is off-color and guttural (and the puppets are often humping each other), guys sitting in leather chairs talking about bland NBA games, and oh yeah - Star Trek reruns. Indeed, the old Nashville Network has reinvented itself so many times already that it's morphing again into a Maxim style network called Spike, self-described as the first network for men. Fantastic, now men will have a place they can call home for all their cartoons, puppets, robots, Baywatch and Star Trek reruns.

In truth, it's maybe a little depressing to think this is what men are supposed to want because this is the same stuff I wanted when I was in high school. Sarcastic cartoons, naked women, beer, destructive robots, potty-mouthed puppets, and of course space exploration. It seems like there's no more expectation for personal growth anymore. Not to say I'm no longer interested in beer, naked women, or even space exploration. And sure, sarcastic puppets and homicidal robots are kind of cool, but it's hard to imagine John Wayne sitting on the couch downing a Mountain Dew and flipping on Spike TV. Or the Marlboro Man firing up the Playstation for some sweet Tekken kung-fu action. Those men were expected to wrangle horses and split logs. Today, it seems all society expects men to do is stay in some sort of teenage arrested development - sustained on sugar, alcohol, Monosodium Glutamate, game consoles, half-shirts,, animation, and Data, Warf & the Borg. Surely there's more to us than this? I mean, at one time what fired men up was Manifest Destiny. Today, it's just the Man Show and seeing a nude spread of the women of Destiny's Child.