May 21, 2008

The World is Getting Larger

When I was summering in Europe a few years ago, I was amazed by the obstacles to traveling. They weren't the same as in the US, but they were rather difficult to overcome nonetheless. Over here we've got a problem with distance - everything is so damn far away. I can make it over to Colorado, but it takes a good twenty hours. In Europe the distances aren't so severe, but the cost of traveling is. I spent $250 getting from Arco in northern Italy to Font in central France. It was just over ten hours of driving, which I can easily handle, but I went broke in the process.

As gas prices increase, the world is going to grow. The world has been getting smaller for the last thousand years, but I see this trend changing in the next ten. With the end of the era of cheap energy, traveling will become more difficult for the first time in human history. I feel is this summer looking at plane tickets. Getting to Europe this year costs as much as China last year. It is only going to get worse, so I foresee my wanderlust becoming more and more of a burden.

Academy and Car

I'm getting lunch with a member of the American Academy today. Awesome, I've never done that before, no one at Davis or Riverside is in the Academy. Jesse says that he didn't even know there was an American Academy, just the French one, and after I told him about it, he still thinks there's only one Academy. What a pretentious bastard.

I found out how they stole my car. I had a small pocket knife between the seats, and Jake noticed that it had been broken since I got my car back. We started thinking about why this could be, then realized what happened. Apparently my pocket knife can start the car, and as we later found out, can also open the doors. So they stole my car with my own knife. Great.

May 19, 2008

MacGyver Climbs

Alright, a new theme for the blog: rock climbing in pop culture. Here we go, round one - MacGyver. Here we have him on a big wall then BASE jumping off the top, how hardcore for the 80s! I love his ice ax, just what you want when there's no ice around. Want more? MacGyver in a different episode, but watch out, those harnesses break. I wonder if he'll overcome his fear of climbing by the end...

[UPDATE] Check out comments for more awesome videos.

My Car Returns

My Car has returned! Found a mile away, no computer, lacking love, but safe and working. They took my faceplate, but not the stereo. My crashpad, but not my climbing shoes. My broker speakers, but not my new ones. I am a little glad thieves ore stupid. If they were smart we would all be screwed. My car has beer so violated! No paint on the font half, no A/C, no stereo, leaks coolant. what has happened?

Now I play catchup with the work, making up for a few days of depression/apathy and a few days without a computed. I made it up to the rocks twice to lift my spirits. One day at the Tran I sent Harry Pothead (V8) and Angus (V9) second go, onsighted Soul Caliber (V9), and redpointed Year of the Cat (V10). Black Mountain booted me off Regeneration a bunch as well. I fell of the top, I could feel the skin peeling off my finger as it happened. There we go, another bloody hole in my tip.

But I finally came to terms with the theft, so I think I'll be ok now. One hell of a week.

[UPDATE] I wrote this post on my new tablet notebook using the handwriting recognition software. Look how far technology has come!

May 13, 2008


It makes me sad. My car and I were friends. Without transportation or communication, I'm not sure how much longer I'll make it. There isn't a whole lot to Alan, so if my cell phone breaks I think I'll cease to exist. Isn't that how these things work?

May 11, 2008


Lots of news, no good photos. So Saturday was spent up at Black Mountain, working stuffs and falling, falling, falling. I cleaned off an ultra classic, but after 20 minutes of brushing I decided it needed 20 minutes more. I gave up, so that gem is open for all. And let me tell you, what a gem it is.

Isn't it annoying how there aren't names for so many great problems at Black Mountain? I did this thing behind NRA, in that cluster of boulders with four lines. You know, the one on the far left going out the steep arete. I'm sure it's been climbed before, but who knows who. I'm calling it Champagne Arete (V9) after the bottle Dave and I were drinking to make our tips hurts less. Let's see if it catches on.

Today I went dirt bike riding. I've only been once before, in high school, for 30 seconds. Then I hit a fence and broke off the clutch lever, and my friend's mom wouldn't let me on again. Boo. Finished up the day with a Thresh Hold staff partay at a bowling ally. Like all good bowling ally adventures, it ended with us getting kicked out.

May 08, 2008

More Guns

Woh, that's hot. Shira after the slaughter - the broken hearts of men litter the hillside. Looking at some more of these gun pics, I decided that more needed to be posted. A few more details: The suits, tailored. The briefcase, full of guns and $500 in cash.

Also, I'm not sure exactly how to bring this one up, but here is a rather unique video. It involves naughty things while hanging from a rope - I'd recommend not clicking the link if you are at work or under 18.

img img img img

May 06, 2008

Devil's Dance

Check that out, the first V12. Damn it was cold - temps couldn't have been better. Oh the route climber in me loves the long problems. What a beast!

May 04, 2008


Guns are intimidating, so I figured I needed a suit to have the confidence to master one. Dale took a few of us out to a forbidden hill to shoot...rubbish? The dirt? There is nothing in the world quite like a gun in your hand, especially when you look as good as we did. I think some of these photos must be blown up movie-poster size. Can anyone take this seriously?


May 03, 2008

Black Mountain

First day this season at Black Mountain, my beloved Tram is burning up in fires. There was a great group - was that too generous - maybe just a mediocre group. Dave took me on the Boulder Basin highball circuit for the warm up, woh. Poor Buzz Saw (V10) had to withstand the triple send from Ian, Aaron, and myself. I almost felt bad for it, but I've never been much for anthropomorphism. Here is a low quality video, way to shitty to get an embed.

Then Dave and I took off to the summit as Jake and Shira read the The Hobbit. We spent a bit figuring out Cracker Boy (B1) before heading over to some V10 crack.

All day I had to put up with Dave's old school grades. No V's - never. All he would give me were B0-B3, the old SoCal bouldering system. B0's are easy, B1's are harder, B3's have only been climbed once, and B2's are everything else. WTF?

We finished up the day with champaign at the OK Corral. Long drive back, then pizza, now philosophy. I don't like philosophy, it is to dependent on me. Why can't it write and read itself?

May 02, 2008


What is Beta? It's time for some conceptual analysis here. A first try: "advice on the best way to climb a route." Not too shabby, but there is an obvious problem - you can get bad beta, perhaps beta for short people that is horrible advice for a tall (and attractive) dude like me. Alright, how about "advice or instruction on how others climb a problem?" Interesting, but you can get beta without consulting others. Imagine you are alone in the woods climbing a problem you know nothing about. You are getting stumped, but after finding a hidden hold you say to yourself "finally! I've got the beta." No one else comes into the picture here, yet you now have beta whereas before you got on the problem, you didn't.

After much thought (oh how my MA Thesis has suffered!) I think this whole business of giving a straightforward definition in misguided. Beta isn't simply a matter of information. Imagine a boulder problem with a crucial heel hook. You would never have thought to get a heel hook on that particular hold, it is around the corner and somewhat hidden, but there is a large tick mark that wraps around the arete. Based on this tick mark you make the straightforward conclusion that you should heel hook the hold. It seems to me, and I think this isn't wrong, that you haven't gotten beta on the climb simply by seeing the tick and concluding the heel hook.

Now contrast this with a situation in which there is no tick, but the person with you has been on the climb and tells you about the secret heel hook. You have clearly received beta here, but oh no! the information you've gotten is exactly the same as in the last scenario. Because of this, I find it unlikely that beta is simply a matter of information.

Alright, so our attempt at providing a definition for beta has been a failure so far. What else could it be? Perhaps "beta" is a functional notion, defined in terms of an onsight and a flash. Again then: "beta is whatever it is that precludes an onsight." Typically this will be information, but notice that on this definition, it is not solely a matter of informational content. The role that this information plays is what is fundamental, that is, information that would turn an onsight into a flash.

I've got to say, this isn't the most informative explanation. After all, we still don't know all that much about onsighting and flashing - we are still ten years away from a decent analysis of these concepts. And we can still ask, what is this mysterious thing that makes an onsight into a flash? What are its characteristics, its properties, both intrinsic and contingent. Yet after thinking about various definitions, I'm not sure we can avoid a functional analysis like this.

Look at those analytic tools you learn from philosophy! How useful, how powerful! What do others think? Sure, this is an inane waste of time, but this is the career path I've chosen, and surprisingly, this is likely the most relevant thing I've written all week. So don't knock it, play along with me here. Thought?!