12.28.2007

Gone


Thirty-six years old. Born in northern Vermont and for the most part, stayed there. 34 of 36 winters taking what came and (mostly) not complaining.

And now. Gone. Eight weeks in a 3/4-ton Dodge van, rear seat ripped out and replaced with a sheet of plywood and a piece of foam. A bed, of sorts. The van hung with all manner of warm-weather play: Two kayaks, three bicycles, a tricycle for the littlest. The bags packed with swim suits and sandals and sunblock. The map on the dash traced with a line extending from Cabot to the Florida Keys.

Christmas spent in a deserted campground in the Ocala National Forest. The boys get leather belts with their names embossed, a book each, and a maple candy. And one of those little planes that fly with a rubber band. They are ecstatic.

After presents, kayaking. Otters and turtles and egrets and funny fish with long snouts that look like they might bite. For dinner, chicken cooked over a fire. It’s good.

No skiing, no pre-dawn mornings spent leaning into a thawing hole of vision on the windshield, coffee sloshing onto Gore-texed thighs. It’s a strange shift and the adjustment has demanded some discipline, learning to enjoy this different world and not dwell on the storms left behind.

And the larger lesson: At some point in your life, if you are lucky, you feel connected to a place and a place’s people. Does it choose you, or do you choose it? He does not know, but he is grateful to feel that connection, even as prepares to point the big Dodge southward, into the heat of winter.

12.20.2007

Can you smell the green wax?

The stain of greenwashing isn't what you think

Excerpted from a guest editorial in the Outdoor Retailer Daily pre-show issue:

...Greenwashing, the vogue term for environmental hypocrisy, is a divisive label that goes beyond a call for truth in advertising with the zeal of a mob. Light beer still makes you fat, extra strength medicine still leaves you coughing, but a greenwasher is tarred and feathered and escorted to the edge of town.

Not just a label anymore, greenwashing is emerging as a wedge issue within a product community that slows progress in its tracks. It creates arguments and uncertainty, casting shadows over things like organic cotton for being easy to counterfeit or bamboo for being energy intensive to grow.

Fueled by cynicism instead of sincerity, the greenwashing virus reaches its zenith when it stops a brand from doing anything at all....

LINK

Sailing & skiing in Iceland


Our favorite almost-Vikings, Brian and Emily, will host "Wild People, Wild Places: Sailing and Skiing in Iceland" next Wednesday at the Big Picture in Waitsfield.

Please check your battle axe at the door.

LINK: Sailing & Skiing in Iceland

12.18.2007

Does Aquaman celebrate Christmas?


If he did, chances are, he'd probably want some of these.

I swam competitively through high school. Great workouts for sure, but spending a couple hours a day with my head underwater didn't exactly hone my social skills. and neither did getting a Blondie tune stuck in my head for a couple thousand meters.

LINK: Salt Lake Tribune

12.16.2007

Glad River Men poach Mad River Glen

Approximately 35 snowboarders successfully poached Mad River Glen yesterday .... and shooter Mike Riddell was there.

The "Glad River Men" hiked, rode, were greeted by applause from the skiers at the base, and (rumor has it) .... went inside and ordered three dozen servings of poached eggs for breakfast.

LINK: MRG Poach gallery
LINK: Free snowboard adjustments

12.14.2007

Hmm


Taos announces that they will allow snowboarders beginning on March 19, 2008.

Burton Snowboards' Sabotage Stupidity video contest ends on March 1, 2008.

Could it be? Nahhhh....

Feels like the first time: Taos says 'yes' to snowboarders


Snowboarders will get their first shot at Taos beginning on March 19, 2008.

LINK

The new commodity is us

Like many of us, I travel for business. I sit in a tiny airplane chair, my knees snug to the kidneys of the person in front of me, my hair comfortably resting in the saliva-covered hands of the toddler behind me. And I relax.

Sometimes, others around me are not so comfortable. So they assert their First Amendment rights by complaining as loudly as they can, apparently hoping to rouse a Sky Marshall or Idaho Senator from the bathroom for assistance. This behavior is odd to me, because I naturally assume that, like me, my fellow passengers spent the least amount of money possible on their airfare.

But I understand.

The sales meeting euphemism for it is “downward price pressure.” Say it out loud, and it sounds like the air coming out of a tire. In reality, it’s not much different, because at this point if you’re not already at the bottom of your pricing comfort level, you’re probably close enough to see it.

Flying the not-so-friendly-anymore skies, we all get a chance to feel what it’s like to be a commodity, an item valued for price alone, and we’ve started to realize how much it sucks. Consumer respect for the products put in front them can’t sink much lower.

Unless, of course, things change.

12.12.2007

Dam that wind


Is it a beautiful solution for windpower generation that doesn't involve windmills on exposed ridgelines?

Or it is the fantasy of a bunch of geeky engineers with a Thong Obsession?

You make the call. LINK

12.10.2007

Movember raises $650k for prostate cancer


"No one said it would be easy growing a mustache for a month, but 2,178 brave men did so as part of a campaign called Movember. Together, they raised more than $650,000 in the United States to help support the battle against prostate cancer."

LINK: NY Daily News

Ride it if you can, Redux

The first time I ever snowboarded at Mad River Glen was in the early 1990s, after a ripping December noreaster clobbered the mountain with snow. We boot packed up through a couple feet of fresh, making brutally slow time but enjoying the way up and making sure to be very, very safe along the way. We didn't start until after lunch, and at that time of year, the Green Mountains get dark at about the same time the kids get out of school, so by the time we hit our stride at the Single Chair midstation it was twilight.

We stopped and rapped with a number of skiers there. We talked snow and we talked turns and we all smiled. We might have even shared some holiday cheer. I can't remember.

The fact that Mad River Glen doesn't allow boarders on the chairlift was hardly a reflection of the attitude of the skiers on the mountain that day. Anybody willing to hike up seemed welcome, whether they were on boards or skis or pogo sticks or scuba flippers. Since then, I've hiked and boarded MRG a number of times either pre- or post-season. And I've enjoyed the experience every time.

I finally moved to Vermont a few years ago, and at the time I used to get my own panties in a bunch about the lack of "legal" riding at MRG. And then, I got over it. If it were a clear cut violation of National Forest regulations as some argue, (See the comment on "Sabotage Stupidity below) I just assume that one of Burton's eight hundred lawyers would've figured that out by now and things would've changed. My guess is that it isn't so simple.

So I never bought a coop share, and I spend most of my days at Sugarbush ... a damn fine mountain in it's own right. And one that welcomes riders with open arms.

The irony is that if the conflict between Burton and MRG was ever resolved, it would diminish them both. As it stands now, MRG continues to get an international boost to their marketing program (courtesty of Jake), while Burton gets to re-establish their street cred as the brand that's fighting for Joe Rider.

Don't get me wrong: I do enjoy the terrain at MRG, I like the company of the people that ski there, and I'd love to ride MRG on a big dump Wednesday in February. But I've got my options .... like skiing ... and apparently, they've got their reasons.

Besides, I'm over it.

Affordable housing


The Eesa RV is up for sale. Current bid is $380.

LINK

12.03.2007

Supply and demand


Monday lunch at MRG

How to sabotage "Sabotage Stupidity"


Burton Snowboards, a multi-national privately owned corporation with an estimated $500 million in annual sales and offices on three continents, is offering a $5000 cash purse for the best video documentary of poaching little old Mad River Glen on a snowboard. Not that they've asked for our opinion, but a few suggested responses for Mad River Glen include:

* ...Offering a $10 cash purse (for gas back to Burlington) for best video documentary of a would-be poacher trying to find a parking space at MRG on a Saturday.

* ...Offering a $20 cash purse for best video documentary of a Burton marketing executive explaining why a campaign encouraging the interruption of a legit ... if totally quirky and random ... Vermont-owned business was really the highest priority branding campsign they could come up with for winter 2008.

* ...Offering a $50 cash purse for best video documentary of slapping a "Ski It If You Can" sticker on the front door of the Burton offices.

* ...Offering a $100 cash purse to MRG shareholders for the best documentary of poaching Mad River Glen on a snowboard, winning the overall prize from Burton, then putting the cash purse toward the Single Chair Fund.

LINK: Burton Sabotage Stupidity

11.29.2007

Day in the Life


He rolls out a new round bale, forks a couple hundred pounds of baleage to the cows. He breaks the ice on their water. Throws a couple flakes of first-cut to the sheep. Grain to the chickens.

The chores done more quickly than usual, none of the typical savoring of the morning, or he’ll miss his plane. Still, he sets out for the airport with little time to spare: Cabot to BTV in 70 minutes, and perhaps another 35 before his flight lifts off. Close, but not nervous-close.

Until the gauges in the old Subaru go flat on the run-in to Montpelier. He knows this symptom all too well: Alternator. He acts quickly, makes it to the car rental counter in less than 5, is out the door in another 10, rolling in a new Outback, the seat warmer pushed to 11, the heat making him squirm a bit, but he’s gotta have it, gotta experience this slice of the good life, even if it’s making his ass sweat.

He makes his flight. He makes his connecting flight, even scores an exit row. He lands. Another rental, a short drive through the barrenness of small-town Minnesota. He reclines, watches a bit of bad TV, heads to the neighboring pub. Eats, drinks. Calls the wife.

She’s not upset, but that’s only because she’s been long-groomed for this life, for the sickening reality that, as she drives down the main drag of Vermont’s capitol city, the hydraulics on the 8-foot Fisher plow attached to the nose of the Chevy are failing, and now the plow is throwing sparks on Main St, trying to scrape the pavement off the road, and the boys are staring in wide-eyed wonder saying “what’s happening, mama? What’s happening, mama?” And it’s getting dark and it’s cold and he’s halfway across the country enjoying a two-beer buzz.

To recap: He is in Minnesota, chasing a story. Their car, a 1995 Legacy that’s about to turn 200,000 and might not be worth the price of the rebuilt alternator they’ll now have to buy, is stranded in the Thrifty lot. A few miles down the road, their Chevy is parked at the end of a long streak of pavement scrapings.

When one considers the goings-on in this world, it is small stakes drama. They remind themselves of this as they chat, telling their respective tales of woe. Soon, he’ll be home, and they’ll collect their broken vehicles, fix them, and carry on. They could wait until later to laugh at the absurdity of it all. Or they could do it now, separated by 1500-miles of America, he shivering under a cold Minnesota sky, she stoking the wood stove in their little Vermont home. And that’s exactly what they do.

11.26.2007

Patience


Another Thanksgiving come and gone. For the Greenneck, a day of work, play, food, drink, and conversation. Dinner was the leg of a lamb the Greenneck had dispatched only a week before; it was extraordinary in its tenderness and flavor, particularly the crisped bits of fat clinging to its meat. And after dinner, an impromptu jam session based on GN’R’s “Patience.” Even the GN, with his rudimentary chops, chimed in and no one complained. Could a holiday be any better?

Well, perhaps. Because to be truthful, the conversation, while stimulating, was a wee distressing. The theme of the day was the acute sense of pessimism that seems to be sweeping through the halls of left-leaning America, and the consensus that it is not misplaced, not merely fretting for the sake of the fret, the way liberals are wont to do. Climate change, resource depletion, the housing crash, skyrocketing health insurance, the diving dollar, the uneasy truth that our economy depends on our continuing to consume beyond our means or ability to mitigate the after effects. Goodness. Can it all be true?

The Greenneck suspects it can, and lately he’s been taking careful measure of his own waning optimism. It is a worrisome trend for a man who’s long traded in happy-go-lucky, and on one level, it seems fraught with ill gain. As Axl Rose so sagely sang “I don’t worry ‘bout nuthin’, ‘cause worrying’s a waste of my time.”

But maybe it’s ok. Maybe acknowledging these things – not just thinking ‘yeah, they’re true,’ but really knowing them – is a step in the right direction. Maybe it’s not only not a waste, but an essential process on the path to action. What action? The GN’s not yet certain. He’ll take his time and think about that. He has that luxury; he needn’t defend his life practices to anyone. Still, it won’t be easy; he’s always been the impulsive sort. He needs just a little patience.

11.16.2007

Inspired


First snow, moustache grows
First turns, razor burns no more
Skin it if you can

11.08.2007

Growing new together

Despite being wicked economist name droppers and show-off spellers, the guys over at Breakthrough have thrown out a verrrry interesting solution to global warming and the end of oil ... namely, to work together and focus on the solution.

Their point is that between the drums of the doomsday crowd and the shrilling of deniers, political lines are being redrawn regarding what it means to be green. And as a result, another group is emerging. One that's not red or blue, Democrat or Republican, urban or rural. Hmmm, sounds sorta like a bunch of Greennecks to me.

It was Breakthrough's idea, but Triple Pundit says it best: ... to get to a new world order takes more than just tearing down the old world order. You have to grow the new one at the same time. And the engine of that growth will come from a new environmentalism of global cooperation, carbon equity, and technological innovation. The only way to get global cooperation is if everyone prospers ...

Happy Anniversary

Two years ago, today, I was diagnosed with stage 3b colon cancer. It wasn't a very good day.

As of this moment, however, I'm cancer free and considered to have a very strong chance of leaving this chapter in my rear view mirror, forever.

I have a lot of people to thank for my survival, including my surgery team at Dartmouth-Hitchcock, my oncologists at the Norris-Cotton cancer center, my chemotherapy nurses, and of course my incredible wife and family and friends.

But i also have to thank the cancer patients who went before me. Their experiences and their willingness to be a part of shared research enabled me to reap the benefits of the best medicine and treatment technologies available. Without them, I might not be here today.

Cancer is a savagely unpredictable disease, and they say that the best weapon against it is prevention. But I'd take that a step further. The best weapon is medical research.

Believe it or not, US funding for cancer research will likely decrease this year. While some groups like the Lance Armstrong Foundation are lobbying the federal government to increase their support of essential research, other groups are doing the research on their own.

Growing a moustache for 'Movember' is a fun and lighthearted way to kill a few weeks in the pre-ski season. The reality is that the dollars raised will be well spent on better, more aggressive, and more effective ways to battle prostate cancer. LINK

If you don't feel like donating money to my moustache .... don't sweat it ... there are thousands of other guys with moustaches and dozens of other exceptional cancer programs worth supporting as well. I've listed a few below.

Happy anniversary.

Sponsor my moustache
American Cancer Society
Susan G. Komen for the Cure
Lance Armstrong Foundation
Colon Cancer Alliance
Norris Cotton Cancer Center
Planet Cancer
First Descents Kayak Camp for kids with cancer
Boarding for Breast Cancer

Can't stop


Beards are fine I guess
But furry, long, hard to tame
It’s ‘stache for me, thanks

11.07.2007

MH III


Food catcher. Beer foam
Chocolate milk, egg yolk, cheese
Save it for later

11.05.2007

Moustache Haiku


Moustache won't you grow
Facial hair ain't my strong suit
Stroke my wispy fuzz

11.02.2007

Mo means Mo

Full disclosure ... it was Steve Mazzuchi who did it first. But like any good idea, it was worth stealing. So, for the month of Movember the team at Wicked Outdoorsy will be growing moustaches to raise cash for prostate cancer research.

We're shaving 'em down and growing 'em back. Our heroes are Tom Selleck, Borat, Wade Boggs, and the entire Ski Patrol nation.

In case you were wondering, prostate cancer is the most common non-skin cancer in America, and more than 218,000 men will be diagnosed with it in the next year.

All donations from our 'STACHE FEST will be made directly to the Prostate Cancer Foundation (ie, "high-impact research to find better treatments and a cure for prostate cancer:"). It's a 501(c)(3) organization, so all donations are tax deductible to the full extent permitted by your accountant

Click on the button below to GIVE to TEAM VERMONT CHEESE. Movember - Sponsor Me

11.01.2007

Looking high in the Northeast


About a week ago, the Comet Holmes got about a million times brighter. You can see it to the northeast, just after dusk (or so they say.

The cloud of dust around the comet is apparently getting bigger, bolder, and attracting amateur photographers from around the world ... not unlike another galactic cluster.

Welcome

10.31.2007

The Awakening Consumer needs more coffee


... Just hanging out at Wal-Mart for the natural laxative effect, apparently.

LINK

10.30.2007

Remembering Carl


I'm not sure how things like this work. Maybe I saw a link somewhere, or a mention buried in text on my reader program, but I don't think so.

His face just came to mind.

Two years ago, two weeks ago, Carl Skoog died. He was a great guy. A nice guy. And a ski mountaineer in the truest sense ... his picture should be next to the definition in the dictionary.

Carl's biggest weakness was that he made it look easy. Notching yet another ski traverse of the North Cascades? No big deal. No drama. Just another day at the office.

Seeing him at the occasional trade show, he always looked as if he'd just received an hourlong massage (except for the bathrobe, of course). He'd be mellow, smiling, and totally open to any conversation.

And looking back through some of his photography ... crisp, landscape-dominated imagery that let the earth speak for itself ... it's painful to wonder what we missed.

LINK Carl Skoog: 1959-2005

A fleece by any other name

A special dedication goes out to the Zen-copywriting allstar who did the holiday REI catalog.

Four pages of fleece pullover descriptions, followed by four pages of fleece zip ups, followed by four pages of soft shells?

You are my hero.

LINK

10.25.2007

Computers are, like, smart and stuff

A computer simulation that played the Rox-Sox series 10,000 times predicted a game one blowout by the Sox (11-2 ... damn close) ... but an 8-4 win by Colorado in game 2, as well as a 7 game series win by the Rockies.

The simulation also predicted that Dennis Kucinich would win the next presidential election, Vermont would secede prior to the American invasion of Iran, and Mad River Glen would allow snowboards beginning this season.

LINK

It's not easy being awake


The brutal irony of the CSR rage and the call for business "transparency" is that the word itself is confusing.

Use it in a sentence that doesn't have something to do with Scotch tape or fake IDs, and I'll be very proud of you.

Fortunately, my man Hugh Hough down at the Green Team has been thinking about this for longer than I've been employed.

" ... Awakening consumers hear all about the carbon footprint created by their cars, homes and travels. They consider carbon offsetting, but then have to deal with concepts such as transparency and sustainable development benefits. And it's not just consumers who are confused. There are plenty of companies struggling to understand what "green" really means. Many brands dealing with sustainability issues are tiptoeing through a minefield full of consumer expectations, and void of helpful standards or regulations. It's not easy being awake.

So if awakening consumers are diverse, paradoxical, value-driven, information-saturated and confused, how do you talk to them? Three simple words: clarity, candor, hope ...


LINK: ADWEEK

10.24.2007

I see leg shavers ...


Want to dress like a biker this Halloween? Check out BikeRadar.

... Doping Cyclist: Dress up in full pro kit. Use a marker to draw needle tracks up and down one arm. Tie a length of surgical tubing above one elbow and leave a syringe sticking out of your vein. Wheel around an IV tower for the duration of the party. Stuff your jersey pockets with bottles of drugs. When anyone asks what / who you are, respond that you are a professional cyclist. When they ask what all the needles and drugs are for, say you have no idea what they're talking about. No matter what, do not admit you have any drug-related items on hand.

Other must-reads include the Roadie, the Tri-Guy, and ... yes.... the Recumbent Rider.

LINK: BikeRadar