September 30, 2009

World Cup

Via climbingnarc, a side by side by side look at 1-2-3 in the Puurs world cup. Check out the different climbing styles. Adam Ondra doesn't just beat them, he p00wnes them.

September 29, 2009

Phil Twitter

Famous philosophers in one sentence. Example:
Plato: Symposium 2nite 7pm, @ The Cave. Open mike, open bar. Under 21 admitted free.

Ruminations on Kneebars

I'm working on getting my life back together, so this must be short. Here's a shitty video of me crawling up Rasta Roof (8A) in Rocklands. Check out that kneebar over the head. I'd recommend skipping the end, since it goes on and on and on...

September 24, 2009


I'm back in SoCal now, jet lagged in a nasty way and not used to the heat. I'm ready to be back, but couldn't the weather have been a little more inviting. Cheers to Chris for trudging out to LAX for the pick up. I've been reading short stories, so I expect some of them to pop up here soon...

September 20, 2009

Goodbye Rocklands, Hello Photos

So I'm out of Rocklands for good. Finally. I hit a brick wall on every trip, that threshold after which I stop caring about climbing. I've been there for a few weeks now. I write from Cape Town, my home for the next two days until I get on the 'ol flight home.

Some photos then. Left you can see John on Black Mango Chutney (7c+). Such an awesome crimp, and yet again more proof that you shouldn't try problems that you've already done. Best case scenario, you do it, who cares. Worst case scenario, you don't do it, you feel like a failure. There just isn't any winning here. For the last week and a half, my fingers have been minced, so re-success was out of the question with that sharp, sharp crimp.

I've been staying at the Alpha Farms homestead, all by myself now that the Germies have left. It has something like 8 beds in 4 rooms. I slept on the couch in the kitchen. The space was too large to conceive, so I pretended smaller in my mind. This is the view from the porch. I felt like a colonial robber baron.

That's Jonas working the cube. I've always thought the rubik's cube was too complex for my little mind, and I've always given up after ten minutes of failure. Rest days with lots of coffee changed that, and now my best time to completion is just under 3 minutes. It's kind of like climbing training, at least with old cubes like this. You get pumped when going for speed! My goal was one minute by the end of the trip, but I need more tricks before that happens. A one minute cube has always been a goal of mine - a life goal of sorts, like seeing the pyramids or eating human flesh.

Golden Virginia (8A), my last rock boulder problem thing in South Africa. It certainly isn't one of the best, but there aren't any crimps, just what I needed. It also cleans up real nice with a little chalk. I keep forgetting how much temperature makes a difference, even when I'm reminded weekly. After 45 minutes on this problem, I gave up with no luck. I climbed a little more, it cooled down, and I learned that impossible is relative. I won't forget again though, thanks to a handy new mnemonic device of mine:

Shirt off, rocks you scoff
Shirt on, climb like Donkey Kong

Scott on the recently broken Crazy Legs (7A+?). So sad. You don't even need crazy legs anymore, regular ones will do the trick.

Once again, model Jonas on an 8A around the back of the Sunset Arete boulder. He wants it, look at his face! But not badly enough to go back for the send. I don't blame him, a second rate problem if I've ever seen one. But who am I to criticize after Golden Virginia?

September 15, 2009

Just Desert

I lost the entire tip of my finger while trying to kneebar though the dino on Hole in One (7C+). It sucks, but I think I deserve it for being lame. Is there any sympathy out there? To see how lame it is, check out Nalle's air as he makes the jump.

Rocklands Video

This is Amna. She is amazing. She made this video about our trip to Rocklands. It is good. Take a look.

September 13, 2009

Leopard Cave

Nursing my broken skin, yesterday was spent with the studies. I get bored, so today I went for a short evening session. I couldn't do two 7b warm-ups, but then I sent Leopard Cave (8A+), so go figure. This photo shows the top-out, a crazy feet first toe/heel hook that you hold for a few moves. Well, I should say, most people do it this way. After falling there a few times, I got fed up and found a kneebar. I'd be surprised if anyone has gotten a kneebar on this climb again. When you lack the strength you need a new way to get up the boulders.

I suppose that I used to be somewhat apologetic about my kneebarring, but not anymore. I saw part of one of the Dosage videos today, and it showed Dave Graham using kneepads. If he can do it, so can I. After all, I'm already using sticky rubber on my feet, I back step occasionally, use foam pads, chalk, and I train in a gym. Why draw a line in the sand at kneepads?

That's all I have to say.

[UPDATE: The photo is Jonas Junker on Leopard cave. So I was wrong.]


Here's an excellent piece on economics by Paul Krugman at the NY Times. I taught Business Ethics for 4 quarters, and let me tell you, those undergrads ate up everything Milton Friedman said, even as I trashed him to the best of my ability. Now I think I was a little too harsh on Milton.

I've always known that Adam Smith was as poorly understood as he was quoted. Remember this from high school economics:
"By preferring the support of domestic to that of foreign industry, he intends only his own security; and by directing that industry in such a manner as its produce may be of the greatest value, he intends only his own gain, and he is in this, as in many other cases, led by an invisible hand to promote an end which was no part of his intention. Nor is it always the worse for the society that it was no part of it. By pursuing his own interest he frequently promotes that of the society more effectually than when he really intends to promote it." (Book 4, Chapter 2)
That's from the Wealth of Nations, the famous "Invisible Hand." But Adam Smith isn't saying that it's better if everyone pursues self-interests. The point is that the good of society can be advanced by self-interested actors, not that it should be. Adam Smith was a moral philosopher, and before the Wealth of Nations came The Theory of Moral Sentiments.

He's pretty clear about this, even within the Wealth of Nations. Just before the Invisible Hand comes out, he says
"[a]ll for ourselves, and nothing for other people, seems, in every age of the world, to have been the vile maxim of the masters of mankind." (Book 3, Chapter 4)
The point, where was the point? Yes, I didn't realize until now that I was being too harsh on Milton Friedman while teaching. As Krugman argues, he isn't the hardcore neo-classical economist of today, although his writings certainly spawned the current crop. He is more moderate than I gave him credit for, just as Adam Smith is more moderate than most people realize. Luckily I don't think anyone was listening, so no harm done.

Oh yes, and economics is as scientific as killing rats.

September 12, 2009


I have ten fingers, which is about normal I suppose, but after sending the sit to Baracuda, only five of these are still in operation. This one climb gave me five split tips. Five. The final go alone broke open three of them. This is noteworthy because, I mean, come on, five? I must have to climb one handed for the rest of the trip.

This has me thinking about skin. A few days ago I used antihydral for the first time. It's pretty awesome stuff, and felt a little like cheating the first few days. It's been hot here, and after a week hiatus chasing lions, my skin was thin. When I returned, these rocks were impossible to climb. It looks like the thin skin and the heat led to lots of lube underneath those meat hooks of mine, and the antihydral did a good job of stopping the flow.

Now a well known problem with antihydral is that it does its job a little too well. When the skin stops sweating it dries out, when it dries out it loses its elasticity, and when it loses its elasticity it cracks. Hence my five split tips. But in fairness, I couldn't climb anything before I used it, so I think I've come out ahead. It's strange that the fingers become too dry with this stuff, and that moisture has to be added instead of feared. Lubriderm for Mr. Bad Skin?

I see Neosporin, super glue, and tape in my near future. Get your own antihydral here. Apparently it's popular with the foozers.

In other news, a police checkpoint gave me a ticket for driving a car with the registration a year out of date. Whatever, I'm out of here in a week and a half, but still. A rental car that isn't registered? Well done Best Beetle.

September 11, 2009

Oh the 90s...

And the world wide web pages that haven't been updated since.
When it comes to sexy girls, they invade the Internet: Nude women pop on your screen, when you're looking for a carabiner! But the pretty girl climbing a rock, Google does not find her easily.
I couldn't have said it better myself.

September 10, 2009

Click Click Click

Damnit, Joe Wilson made me dab on my project.

A Moral

I'm still here in Africa, but everyone has now left me. I'm the lone American here, except for the other one, but I don't ever see him. Therefore he doesn't exist. I'm living with a bunch of Germans, driving a beater bug, and overall sick of this continent.

On the bright side, the flowers are in their prime. I'm beginning to see why old people might make the trek out here to see them. I mean, if there were nothing else for me to do, I'd be right with them.

On the climbing front, I've got a number of projects. Nothing I'm all the psyched on, but then again, I've been here way too long. Some of the climbs here sure are lookers, like Black Mango Chutney (7c+) below.

Rain and horseback riding are in my near future. As is pizza. I finally have internet in my house, so my clairvoyance is picking up more posts as well. I think I'm missing home, or am I just ready to leave Africa? Either way, more of the same would be easier to bear if Amna were still in the hemisphere. Apparently loneliness is the price to pay for buying the ol' ticket on a whim. Remember that. I need to remember that.