The Awakening Consumer needs more coffee

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



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.



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.


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 ...



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


Out of the closet

Mine is blue. Says “Surfer” on it, or at least it used to.

The elastic on the collar is shot, there’s paint on the sleeve, and the screen is beyond faded. So faint, in fact, you can barely read the word.

I pieked it up during a visit to OC during the mid Nineties. Cas gave it to me, and I can not … I will not move it out of the rotation.

It’s a Mega shirt.

The Megas we keep are not about what the shirt says or how they look, but when they came from. I tried thinning out my own shirt drawer this weekend, in anticipation of the coming sweater-lanche that accompanies the arrival of dreaded, fearsome November. And I didn’t do that well. Apparently the “when” still trumps a lot of the “now.”

Most guys own around 20 t-shirts. That’s almost three weeks worth of odor-free apparel without a single load of laundry. But most guys also also have a prime rotation that includes just four or five.

Trust me, the numbers are accurate. Some of my best friends are guys, and they’ll back me up.

That means that most guys have more than a dozen shirts that we don’t wear, but that we insist on keeping because of some strange connection we have to a place and a time.

Fact: I own two organic cotton T’s. Not because I don’t embrace my Agri-Sexual side, but rather because my zero-growth t-shirt policy doesn’t allow for wholesale changes. Or shwag changes for that matter.

Conclusion: Fuck storage space. I love that shirt.

Monday Morning Matchup: Al Gore vs. the New England Patriots

Offense: Tom Brady threw for a franchise-record six touchdowns against Miami yesterday, including five first half TDs. He completed 21 of 25 passes for 354 yard, and now has 27 touchdowns on the season. Al Gore was the 45th Vice President of the United States, serving from 1993-2001. He has repeatedly said that he will not run for President in 2008.
Edge: New England.

Defense: New England's Rodney Harrison sacked Cleo Lemon for a 10-yard loss in the third quarter, raising his career total to 30.5 sacks. Coupled with his 32 interceptions, Harrison is the first player in NFL history to record at least 30 sacks and at least 30 interceptions in his career. Al Gore won the Nobel Peace Prize.
Edge: Al Gore

Special Teams: After the Dolphins only first-half score, New England fielded the ensuing kickoff and took it back 77 yards for his first NFL touchdown. The first time the Patriots punted, Chris Hanson's kick pinned the Dolphins at their 1. Al Gore won an Academy Award for "An Inconvenient Truth" as well as an Emmy for Current TV.
Edge: New England.

Intangibles: New England has scored on its opening drive in each game this season, totaling four touchdowns and three field goals. New England has scored first in each of its seven games this season and has achieved the feat in 10 straight regular season and playoff games dating back to Jan. 7, 2007. Al Gore won the most votes in the 2000 presidential election.
Edge: Al Gore

Our prediction: Al Gore


We are all Todd Jones

Tough break. Wrong couch, wrong time.

Conservation, community, and kindness

On a rainy Wednesday morning, I started research for a television proposal on outdoor companies and their efforts to make the world a better place.

As part of the process, I sent out dozens of emails to people around the country who are smarter, better connected, and far snappier dressers than I'll ever be.

The email was relatively vague, titled "Do Goodery," and sought ideas as well as referrals for people to contact in the outdoor world.

I guess I shouldn't have been surprised by the responses, but I was. The vast majority of input was regarding brands and their conversion to green manufacturing techniques (Company A is now using bamboo widgets... etc) and only a sparse few were regarding do-goodery outside company walls, llike 1% for the Planet, Big City Mountaineers, and Kona Biketown Africa.

Without a doubt, green manufacturing has become the biggest story in the outdoor industry. It's also the biggest story in just about any other industry i can think of. From education and government to entertainment and sports, green is the color of the day. Like a grown up in a preschool soccer game, it dominates the field.

I would never dare to doubt those making a sincere effort to green up their business practices. Change is hard, and somebody making even a token effort should be allowed to promote the shit out of it.

Climate change is a critical issue. I'm certainly not alone in recognizing that. Yet I also feel quite strongly that it's not the only issue out there worthy of our attention, our time, and our CSR budgets.


Oliver's Army

Seven chicks: $21.95

120 feet of one-inch hex poultry netting: $69.95

Six 8-foot 4x4's for the chicken run: $96.95

Two bags of quik-crete: $19.95

New paint for the chickenshit stained front porch: $32.95

Watching your kids find the first egg: Priceless

Chickens eat table scraps. They make eggs. And they're good listeners, for the most part.

We picked up seven chicks last spring and brought them back to the Waitsfield Ski-Barn. Six of them turned out to be hens, while the seventh (named "Olivia" by the kids) eventually came out of the coop as an Oliver.

They free-ranged for most of the summer, splitting time as traffic slowing devices and child entertainment. But after they found the neighbor's pool deck, they were returned to the Yard.

We found the first eggs this weekend. Three of them, tiny and brown. And then we ate them.

I'm hardly an off-the-grid back-to-the-earth guy like some that I know. And I can't really point fingers at other lifestyles when I know that my own has plenty of room for improvement.

But I do enjoy seeing my family enjoy a plate of food that came from somewhere that I know.


When the going gets tough, the Red turn Green

Pat McGann is as red as they come. Trust me ... I used to work for him.

Far happier with a Beretta than a Blackberry, McGann has apparently converted to Greennecking™©® these days.

It bleeds off the pages of his stellar editorial in the latest Salmon & Steelhead Journal (clips below, click to enlarge), and it warms my heart.

PROPERTY RIGHTS vs. SALMON: Grumpy Uncle Dick killed 77,000 salmon and inspired the Northwest property rights lemming march. Here's what you can do to stop it.

I am earning a living right now ... on salmon.

There are thousands of people who feed their families on salmon. Some of them are commercial fishers and processors. More of them, like me, are members of the sportfishing industry. Although we fight like cats and dogs — and will as long as salmon are scarce — we do share that one vital common interest: no salmon, no livelihood, no new shoes for baby.

That's how I discovered I am one of those damned environmentalists.

True, I don't want to hug the fish or elk. I want to hunt them down and kill them and eat them. It's a bloody shade of green, yes ... but still, I know where my bread is buttered.

It took me a long time to figure that out, but I don't see how anyone who has anything at all — financial, emotional or spiritual — riding on salmon (or for that matter, elk or grouse or cutthroat) can be anything but dedicated to a healthy, productive natural environment.

My vested interest is in clean water, healthy habitat and thriving fish and game populations. If that makes me an environmentalist, so be it.

And that's why I am a sworn enemy — by mutual consent — of the egocentric freak show referred to as the "property rights" movement. Over the years I've wasted a lot of breath trying to convince these people that salmon are worth saving, worth enhancing and celebrating in their own right, worth a sacrifice, that their magic is something we can't afford to lose. I'm done digging in that dry hole. ...... "


In Search of Slow

Simon is an Aussie; he was hanging around Cabot for a couple of summers, in between wintering in Kazakhstan, where he runs a backcountry ski guiding service. When he was in the area, he lived in a cabin, made wine and beer and cheese and raised a few ducks, and picked up the odd carpentry gig to make a little cash. He didn’t have a car, but he did have an old 10-speed.

He had to leave last June; his tourist visa ran out and there seemed little change of getting it extended or finding a young lass to marry him. And maybe part of him just wanted to go; after all, he’d been itinerant for so many of his years. A while back, he walked across Spain with a donkey.

He’s in Europe now, and Italy specifically. He just got a job tending a small vineyard and delivering the grapes via donkey. He lives in another cabin; he surely is making beer and wine and cheese, for he is known to consume lots of each and is also known to have little money. He is, according to his blog, in search of slow.

It is so compelling, and not merely for the alliteration (though it can’t hurt). In Search of Slow. It’s soothing just to say it.

I didn’t get to know Simon all that well while he was here, though we had the common interests of simple living and powder skiing (or, in his case, snowboarding). On a few occasions, we drank his homebrew and talked at length about our lives and the lives of those around us, and I came to be affected by his commitment to slow, peaceful living. I envy his willingness and ability to pursue it even in a world that holds little esteem for such pursuits. And every time I think of him, I resolve to find some of that willingness and ability in myself.

Just Say Go

What does the outdoor experience look like?
The outdoor experience may look like regular everyday items, like walking to work or being in the backyard. Other outdoor experiences may look totally different, with strange tools or “paraphenalia.” You may not recognize the outdoor experience at first glance. So if you see something and you are not sure what it is, do not try it. Instead, tell someone you trust who is safely inside -- like your mom or dad, a teacher, or a Blockbuster Video store manager.

Is the outdoor experience bad? What if someone forces me to try the outdoor experience?
The outdoor experience can affect people for the rest of their lives, so you should stay away from them. If someone asks you to try something and you don't know what it is, what should you do? The best thing to do is to say "no" and go to closest Tim Horton's.

My father and uncle like to ski. I heard someone say that it's an outdoor experience. I'm confused!
Skiing does take place outside, which means it is an outdoor experience. Some adults, like your father and uncle, may choose to ski. It's okay for most adults to ski once in a while, but skiing too much can hurt them. And being outside in winter can definitely hurt kids. You and your friends should stay away from skis, snowshoes, and any Nordic products. Your body is still growing, and the outdoor experience can change it forever. Remember, the outdoor experience is dangerous.

My mother is a snowboarder. My teacher says that's bad. I want my mom to stop. What should I do?
Snowboarding is bad for people. But your mother is an adult who may choose to do what she needs to do. She may have started a long time ago when she didn't know that snowboarding could hurt her. Snowboarding contains a outdoor experience called “enjoyment” that makes it very hard for people to stop riding. You can tell your mother that you hope she will stop. Her choice to snowboard has nothing to do with you, but it may help her to stop if she knows that you care about her health.

Some older kids in high school use the outdoor experience. Nothing bad happens, they say. Is this true?
Most older kids do not use the outdoor experience. That's because the outdoor experience is dangerous, and most kids know it. Those kids who do use the outdoor experience are hurting their knowledge of TV and their Halo high score. Sometimes we cannot see the pain of these kids, but it is there. It's like when you get a paper cut: the cut may be very small and others may have trouble seeing it, but it hurts you. Using the outdoor experience is 100 times worse. The outdoor experience changes your body and makes you yearn to be outside. It also makes you unable to think straight. Hang with those kids who don't use the outdoor experience, and don't let older kids tell you that the outdoor experience won't hurt you.

I see a lot of TV commercials that show older people enjoying the outdoors and having fun. What if I tried it?
Mountains and rivers contain the outdoor experience. Both are very dangerous for kids. They are also very far away. TV commercials make things look nice because they want you to buy the products. They don't show that the outdoor experience can make people sick of their jobs, cause daydreaming, get them into problems with the ski patrol, and lead to all sorts of trouble with their wives and their families. There are lots of fun and good things you can do. Don't use harmful things like the outdoor experience. Instead, you can play a game with a friend, help your parents around the house, or try Sudoku. I love Sudoku.


Moretownies step into Patagonia spotlight

Brian Mohr and Emily Johnson get pole position on The Cleanest Line, the Pata-blog, for their Dirtbag Grant-fueled travels to Patagonia.

"We are not just a bunch of gringos who would prefer that Chile stop developing its wonderful country. Nor are we opposed to hydropower. We are residents of this planet who support the cause of countless Chileans endeavoring to stop the profit-driven damming – the "electrocution" - of the global treasure that is Patagonia."

LINK: The Cleanest Line
LINK: Vermont slideshow schedule


Perfection is the enemy of good

A person who engages in the same behaviors he condemns others for.

A climate change activist lacking enough sense to live in a mud hut.

A perfectly healthy doctor who doesn’t have the common courtesy to get cancer before treating it.

Bemoaning the Yankees. Watching them anyway.

A skier in alpine touring gear riding chairlifts.

Driving a car designed for Middle East battle scenarios, a car that is the true symbol of America's military-petroleum complex, to yoga class.

Driving your dubious-emission 12 mpg pickup truck to the organic farmer’s market.

Driving a Prius. Still not carpooling.

Riding your conspicuous bike yellow bike to work. 'Cause your wife is doing all the kid driving.

Welcome to October

"Vermont ... Just Stay Away. Don't Bother.