The Quivering of Your Loins

We saw the movie “Juno” last night. Unfortunately, it’s one in a series of feel good films (see “Knocked Up”, “Saved!”) in which our key players fail to use any form of birth control, find out 2 months in they are pregnant, and then decide to have the child. I am not sure I understand it. A year ago a Times article pointed out, under the current policy, teen pregnancies between the ages of 15-19 rose 3%, the first such rise since 1991. Does this mean teenagers are unaware of contraception? Does an ‘abstinence only’ policy have anything to do with this rise? What does it mean that these films match the trend in the rise of teen pregnancy? An excerpt from the Guttmacher Institute shows that we are pitifully behind other industrialized nations, having both higher birth and abortion rates, than Sweden, France, Canada, and Great Britain.  We’re somewhere in the ballpark of Indonesia, South Africa, and Brazil.  And it doesn’t appear our situation is improving.  Surely, we can all agree that we want fewer abortions and fewer teenage pregnancies?  But sadly these past two terms have been ahistorical in nature.  And we do seem mired in it, with our inability to agree on things as a nation, we’ll just have to stick with Liberia and our “standard” units of measurement.

email poetry

Apparently I am a good target for email poetry. Recently I got this from Chris:
[Re:] on moving to the cabin:

radio – by Charles Bukowski

strange eyes in my head
I’m the coward the the fool and the clown
and I listen to a man telling me that I can get a
restaurant guide and an expanding cultural events calendar
I’m just not here today
I don’t want restaurants and expanding cultural events
I want and old shack in the hills
rent free
with enough to eat and drink until I die
strange eyes in my head
strange ways
no chance

From Matt:
[Re:] Rumi for a desert new year:

In the driest whitest stretch
Of pain’s infinite desert
I lost my sanity
And found this rose.

And a few years ago Jessica sent me this:

[Re:] September… im Herbst:

‘You say, I will find another city, a better one than this.
But this city will follow you. You will walk the same streets,
you will grow old in the same neighborhoods.

[she said] I’ll give you five bucks if you can figure out who said this.’

And I did find out who it was, that day, harnessing the power of the internet, and this is the whole depressing poem:

The City – Constantine P. Cavafy (1910)

You said, “I will go to another land, I will go to another sea.
Another city will be found, better than this.
Every effort of mine is condemned by fate;
and my heart is — like a corpse — buried.
How long in this wasteland will my mind remain.
Wherever I turn my eyes, wherever I may look
I see the black ruins of my life here,
where I spent so many years, and ruined and wasted.”

New lands you will not find, you will not find other seas.
The city will follow you. You will roam the same
streets. And you will age in the same neighborhoods;
in these same houses you will grow gray.
Always you will arrive in this city. To another land — do not hope —
there is no ship for you, there is no road.
As you have ruined your life here
in this little corner, you have destroyed it in the whole world.

Make of this what you will. I am back in Virginia for a couple of days visiting family. When I return to “The City” there will be time to contemplate what these three poems are doing in my inbox, and the why.

4 miles… Setting the Line Free

I did a four mile run over the Queensboro bridge and back last night. It was loud, and kind of dirty, and not a super pleasant run, but it is quintessentially New York, and if it’s about achieving a Zen state, like the Sri Chinmoy 3,100 Mile Race of Self-Transcendence then a short run across the bridge is an easy thing. I am not out of shape, per se, I’ve done a fair amount of hiking and cycling over the last few months, but I’ve been meaning to do some shorter easy runs. Greenpoint may be a better direction to head in, not that the Pulaski Bridge and the Newtown Creek are any cleaner. The point being, if I want to do longer multi pitch climbs, or alpine routes, I need to be in shape to carry packs and gear to get up the mountain. In Joshua Tree we top-roped and only did single pitch, but hopefully this spring in the ‘Gunks I’ll start doing some 5.5 and below of some of the “classic” easy leads. Which brings me to Yosemite, and “The Leaning Tower”….

Lynn Hill is one of the most famous female climbers in the world, and is still actively one of the best. Three years ago, she and a younger rock star Katie Brown did the free route of the west face, of a big wall in Yosemite, “The Leaning Tower”, at around 5.13b. That is crazy. This is her blog entry. But the standard west face route, is a Grade V, 5.7, A2+ (C2F), clean aid. Meaning, that it is a few days to the top, average free climbing is 5.7, with quite a few sections of serious aid climbing, requiring multiple hook moves but on good placement. There just aren’t that many people in the world that could hookup and go free climb a Grade V route at 5.13b. That’s no shit. The “Leaning Tower” is described as this: 11 pitches of rope, steep and strenuous, 700 ft of continuous overhanging rock, the lower sections overhang at 110 degrees, the upper at 95 degrees, the face has dark mineral clots in rounded shapes, giving a spotted appearance, known geologically as Grandiorite.

Anyhow, read the blog entry if you are into that sort of thing. Lynn is obviously a pretty serious person, and I imagine them to be an odd couple of sorts, at the end of the blog she basically says, “Yeah, Katie didn’t make it all the way up free, but she’s young, and has things to learn.” Beth Rodden, is another younger female climber, climbing 5.14+, who I imagine jibes better with Lynn’s personality. But that is my interpretation of it.

Note: The photos below are all Creative Commons’ licensed, click on them for their respective photographer’s Flickr page. The YouTube video is the official Patagonia video of Katie Brown and Lynn Hill’s climb at The Leaning Tower.

Yosemite - Valley Panorama, by Jason Coleman

Bridalveil Fall and Leaning Tower by RandomCuriosityThe Leaning Tower, Yosemite, CA by AmbitiousWench


We had a small get-together here in Queens last night. It was modestly successful considering how the trains don’t run on weekends anymore and well, we live in Queens. Dave and Stacey represented Astoria and brought us custom spices to grind and mince for our cooking needs. It was something of a house warming party 7 months after the fact. Hillary made the trek up from East Prospect Park with her friends. I had to work during the day down in Park Slope on David Wain’s “Wainy Days” last webisode, so it was up to Zoe to get the house ready. But yes, Stephen was here visiting Irene, with Conor and Leigh, and they ran into John near his new place in the East Village and brought him, lots of good people and friends. We cannot complain. Our little apartment held up admirably.

Also got an email back from Garret, he says the REI Sub Kilo down bag worked like a champ. I still think a nice thick lightweight quilt would work for two people. Resoling lightweight shoes though, I think has promise. Simple rubber resoles on lightweight trekking / trail running “sneakers”. I think it is a good plan. Long distance hikers can blow though a pair of sneakers in 10 days. Multiple pairs of light leather/ synthetic shoes, rotating through them as you hike, that can be resoled at home. Surely this has been done before.


We made it home to Long Is. City. It was an epic back to Tucson via Hwy 10 through the desert in the Red Pontiac Grand Prix. Joshua Tree National Park was worth all the hassle. Mt. Lemmon north of Tucson was also worth the drive and inconvenience of stopping and picking up helmets. The days feel bigger in the Southwest. The fields of grass around the wash in Patagonia, Arizona were beautiful. The sunsets on the rocks and Joshua trees are to be remembered. The 30 degree nights in the tent were also quite memorable. Also, the snowshoeing with Chris and his mother on Christmas morning in Rocky Mountain National Park Colorado was amazing.

The 2nd night camping in Joshua Tree we chose a spot which faced the sunrise. This is critical as it is cold in the shade. The sun starts rising a little after 6am but doesn’t really come out until 06:30 and if your are in the shade it stays really cold. Our 2nd campsite was also a bit more sheltered from the winds that can kick up.

We climbed one sport route in Mt. Lemmon National Park (Ridgeback 5.5 at Ridgeline, 100 ft.)and then in Joshua Tree all top roping. There we climbed at “Lizard’s Hangout”, the Short Wall in “Indian Cove”, Belle Campground, and our last day at “The Thin Wall” in “The Real Hidden Valley”. The rock varied but was mostly very rough on the hands and very sticky for the feet. The “Short Wall” was tremendous because it was all balance moves on your toes practically. I tried a really hard 5.10b crack I think, and wasn’t up to snuff. I climbed a couple of other 5.10a’s without problem and generally we found the ratings to be stiff, but I think it depended more on the wall. Mostly the holds were very positive and allowed a lot of smearing. We set up anchors for the most part with tubular webbing around large boulders. It helped to be in the sun. Cams would’ve been helpful in some occasions but a sling as a backup is never a bad idea. There were rap bolts of questionable age and quality on the Thin Wall.

The smelly hippy climbers with dogs next to us were helpful only after two locking ‘biners on a runner got stuck in a crack at the top and I needed a nut tool to unjam them. Luckily the nut tool worked. And then we proceeded to travel for 16 hours back to New York City. I’ll post some photos here below and on my flickr page.

Belle Campground Joshua Tree
View of The Great Burrito
Lizard's Hangout. Wow.  Those 5.9s were serious cracks.
Zoe .
Zoe and Yunghi
Samaurai Hot Tub
Our new helmets
1st day in the sunshine of the wash
Black Diamond Nut Tool