Archive for December, 2009


more than slightly scary: lost hiker story from gila

December 17, 2009

While I’ve been merrily posting away about our trip to the Gila Wilderness over Thanksgiving, there’s been a story all over the news in some places about a guy who went missing near where we were, and is now recovering from severe hypothermia.  He’s apparently only alive thanks to his dog.

Yikes.  He was out there at the same time, too.

Here is a link, if you’re interested in reading the story.  The gist of it is that he went on a day hike, got lost, got cold and delirious, and curled up in fetal position next to a creek, where he was found about a week later.  His dog was curled up on his chest keeping him warm.  The sad part is that the dog bolted when they were found, and has been missing since.  Poor puppy.  Silly puppy, for running off, too.

Dogs do make good little heaters, though.  On our trip to Gila, by the end of it, she’d get cold early and go try to get into the tent.  If she was in there for a while before us, it’d warm up pretty nicely before we settled in to sleep.


trip report! part six: frozen rivers and thanksgiving stew

December 17, 2009

Woo!  Posting two of these in a row, for once.  It must be obvious that I’m supposed to be doing something else right now.

Part five left us waking up on six inches of frozen soil, eager to get the hell out.  But, we did want to hang around and explore what we thought was quite a nice site, so we decided we’d try to move our camp to the sunny side of the river.  Over there, the soil would be unfrozen, we reckoned.

So, we got layered up in everything warm we had, and started exploring, looking for an easy way across.  On the way to the river, we encountered our first challenge: our water source, a side-creek that was much easier to access from our site, had completely frozen overnight.

Not a happy discovery for any of us.

The ice at least looked pretty cool up close, though.

Read the rest of this entry ?


trip report! part five: permafrost is way uncool

December 15, 2009

Damn, I’d really better hurry up and post the rest of our epic tale…in five days, I’m leaving for yet further travels, and will have another trip report to post.  Won’t be as long, I imagine, because (hopefully) not as much will happen.  I like some vacations to be pleasant and uneventful.

At last update, we were just about to set out on the trail after our first night camping.  The real trail, that is.

But first, some of us had to tape up our feet, as river-crossing sandals aren't the best support for the second-worst feet my old PT guy had ever seen.

What ensued was a very pleasant hike, in near-sixty degree weather, under perfectly clear skies.  The Gila West Fork canyon narrowed in around us within a mile or so, making the scenery most excellent.

Cool rocks on the canyon walls above us.

Read the rest of this entry ?


becoming a coloradan: the scary parts

December 10, 2009

We have just broken out of (hopefully for good, but at least for now) a string of below-zero-and-single-digit days. With snow. Lots of snow. Not Colorado lots, but the annoying lots that just comes in little spurts every day. Then it doesn’t go anywhere, because thirty five degrees is beginning to feel like a distant memory from childhood, or maybe like a dream you had about the beach once.

Today it felt much warmer. In fact, I enjoyed biking around in only a wool sweater and a windbreaker. Well, and expedition-style mittens (seriously, I think these suckers were designed for Antarctica), but definitely only 2 thin layers of jacket over my t-shirt and jeans. And no long underwear, for the first time in days! Hooray!

I was just remarking to myself on my ride to the coffee shop after class this afternoon just how very nice it was outside today, and what a joy it was to be able to bike around without swaddling every inch of my skin in five layers of wool, fleece, and down.  How beautiful!  How warm!  I mean, still winter, but damn!  Aside from the mittens, I was wearing my standard fall biking ensemble!

And then, I biked past the flashing temperature display at NIST.  You know it’s correct, because they’re in charge of these sorts of things, right?  I mean, when they’re not teleporting atoms and building quantum computers and such.  No really, my friends work there.  Follow the link, it’s really cool.  Anyways…the temperature display.

It said fourteen degrees.

I thought it was a lovely day and was perfectly warm in a sweater and windbreaker at fourteen degrees Fahrenheit.

Oh, Colorado, what have you done to me? I was born in Georgia, raised in North Carolina, and now I think fourteen degrees Fahrenheit is a nice afternoon.

I will have to eat extra biscuits and collards this weekend to soothe the horrified southerner inside of me.

PS. For bonus irony, the folks upstairs finally turned the house’s heat on…and then set a chicken on fire in their oven.  It is nice and toasty in the basement now, and very smoky.

PPS. Yes, the heat just came on today, despite the whole below-zero thing.  They use a woodstove upstairs, and down here in the basement, it stays a pretty constant temperature.  A pretty constant cold one, these past weeks, but nothing dangerous.  I have sweaters.  Lots and lots of sweaters.  Oh, and a space heater.

PPS.  I almost tagged this post “Colorado: it’s not a city, it’s a motherfuckin’ state,” which is a Paper Bird lyric (at least, it’s the lyric they sing when they perform “Colorado” live).  But, I was struck by a strange desire to be slightly less vulgar today.  Slightly.  “Colorful Colorado” is some kind of state slogan.  I see it on signs, and I have it on an awesome, badass-as-all-hell t-shirt that I will tell you all about on some other day.


the best response to “climategate” i’ve seen so far

December 9, 2009

To be honest, I haven’t really been following much of the “Climategate” mess.  It seems mostly silly to me.  Scientists use foul language?  Yeah, they (we) do.  Especially when shit breaks in lab and fucks up our data.  Scientists use “tricks”?  Yeah, we like our data to look good.  Doesn’t mean our conclusions are wrong (though sometimes they are, of course).  Anyhow, a handful of unlawfully obtained emails with bad language and evidence of data-massaging in no way proves a global conspiracy.

That said, I have read a bit about it, since it’s in the news, and I read the news.  Thomas Friedman’s column in today’s NY Times is, in my opinion, absolutely the best response to this whole heap of garbage.  His point?  Regardless of how likely you think catastrophic global warming is, it is undeniable that there is a chance it will happen.  When you see a chance something catastrophic might happen (even if it’s a tiny chance), you buy insurance to protect yourself from that possibility.  What harm can it do?  He sums it up nicely:

If we prepare for climate change by building a clean-power economy, but climate change turns out to be a hoax, what would be the result? Well, during a transition period, we would have higher energy prices. But gradually we would be driving battery-powered electric cars and powering more and more of our homes and factories with wind, solar, nuclear and second-generation biofuels. We would be much less dependent on oil dictators who have drawn a bull’s-eye on our backs; our trade deficit would improve; the dollar would strengthen; and the air we breathe would be cleaner. In short, as a country, we would be stronger, more innovative and more energy independent.

Anyhow, you should read the column.  I usually try not to be a Thomas Friedman fangirl (because I think some of the things he writes are silly), but this is an occasion where I’d be okay with it.


dear god, the windchill is…

December 9, 2009

…eighteen below.  And it is actually nine below.

Colorado, must you do this to me every year at exam time?  As if one form of misery isn’t enough.


sexual health: inform thyself

December 8, 2009

This article from Violet Blue (yes, this is pretty much a repost, but I skipped the link through her blog and went straight to the column in the SF Gate, for those of you who may be reluctant to click on the link titled “open source sex”) made me realize just how lucky I’ve been in terms of my healthcare.  Well…in some parts of it, anyway.

Anyhow, the column, titled “The Sex Doctor is Out,” is about the difficulties of talking to your doctor about sex, meaning anything from disease to dysfunction to general questions.  Not just the difficulty of having the conversation, but the very real chance that they will give you misinformation.  For instance, from the column:

It started with an email from a woman whose doctor told her to use Crisco for lube with condoms, claming that Crisco would not break latex because it is “natural.” (FALSE: Crisco contains oils that break condoms easily.) Then I got a panicked call over the weekend from a female friend in the East Bay who was just diagnosed with HPV. A lesbian, she asked her doctor how to keep from passing the virus to her sex partners. The doctor replied, “You’ll be fine. Men can’t get it.” (FALSE: If men didn’t get HPV, how would it be transmitted? And what an –hole. Dr. Jerkface needs a slap.)

Read the rest of this entry ?