4.30.2007

Rejected green buzzwords


Localbores

Localsnores

Localwhores

Carbon Iffy

Carbon So-So

Carbon "Not Necessarily Bi, But Looking"

Global Warm Fuzzies

Global Panini Maker on High

Global-latte

The Bridge


I didn’t call Mad River Glen’s Eric Friedman to talk carbon offsets, but as is often the case with Eric, things veered off-course.

It seems that Mad River is considering the purchase of offsets to neutralize its carbon footprint, but Eric was concerned that doing so would make them an easy mark for the ever-growing battalion of enviro-cynics. “Are we setting ourselves up?” he asked.

I didn’t have a good answer for him, and it didn’t hit me until much later how royally screwed-up this is: Eric Friedman, who has never let political correctness stand between him and, well, much of anything, is concerned that buying carbon offsets will make him and the ski resort, er, area he works for a target.

Cynicism is so seductive. It makes the cynic feel at once witty, morally superior, and smug. Sure, there are other ways to get that feeling, but unfortunately, they’re either illegal, or make you feel like shit the next day.

Friedman is right: Carbon offsets are an easy target. That’s because they’re almost equal parts problem and solution. They are the hybrid SUV of the carbon consumer and to the working class Vermonter they are Al Gore in a Prius. Which is to say, something that deserves both derision and dismissal.

So yeah, carbon offsets aren’t the answer; that doesn’t mean they’re wrong. Eric and I ended up talking about other, more tangible ways Mad River can cut its carbon output. This, of course, is where the answer lies, both individually and collectively. But If carbon offsets are the bridge we need to get there, then by all means, let’s build it. And then get across the damn thing as quick as possible.

4.27.2007

Coomba does Tribeca


The Great One makes his big screen debut as the soul and center of "Steep", debuting at the Tribeca Film Festival this weekend.

You can check out some clips here. If it doesn't make the hair on the back of your neck stand straight up, i'll sell my company for $1.2 billion.

Backoir


So Backcountry has bought out Couloir.
Who might be looking over their shoulder?
Now that Howie's a publishing magnate, can he maintain his Greenneck status?
Can you really sell a magazine to a subset of skiers who only go to the dollar store when there's a half-price sale?

Questions, questions.

Rollin' in 05647


This morning I borrowed one of these from our neighbor.

Is anyone else hungry?

Rollin' in 04101: I have seen the Light

And the Lord said, "let there be Whole Foods," and it was Good.

Or, as MHC says, "Whole Foods is rediculous. The first time I went into the place I had a glazed look of amazement when I left, with out purchasing anything. I'm not sure if it was the layout, wine selection, or being surrounded by so many people who pay retail for Horny Toad, TNF, Patagucci, and Barbour in the place."

4.25.2007

Love for sale


The Greenneck still bleeds red.

Rollin' in 02332


We spent the weekend at my brother-in-law’s house in Duxbury, Massachusetts. We had a grand ole time, beaching and basking and rolling through the bro-in-law’s ‘hood in our rusty Subaru blasting Ted Nugent, which was enough to send the locals scurrying to the safety of their cedar-shingled mansions.
I found Duxbury to be at once compelling and disturbing in its beautiful sameness. This is the sort of town where a million bucks buys you a “starter” home; the bro-in-law dropped $900k last summer and is now embarking on a quarter-million dollar renovation. It’s a nice house, but it’s one of the most modest in the area. In Duxbury, there are no paint-peeling farmhouses falling in on themselves, no ’88 Chevy Cavaliers sitting on cinder blocks in the front yard. In Duxbury, there is only prosperity, or at least the appearance of prosperity. If you never left town, you’d never see hardship in person.
I really like my brother-in-law. He’s smart and funny and charming (probably why he makes enough dough to live in Duxbury in the first place). He and his wife have a 16-month old son. I asked him if the lack of income stratification bothers him, if by living in the absence of poor (or hell, even middle class) people might in some ways be impoverishing to him and his family. He looked genuinely confused by my question. “What would I gain from that?” he asked.
Vermont is no bastion of diversity. But after rolling in Duxbury for a weekend, I find myself more grateful than ever for the relative poverty that surrounds us. This might sound strange, and even elitist: After all, who could feel grateful for poverty but someone who’s not poor? So to be clear, I’m not talking about bone-deep, empty-stomach poverty. I’m talking about the poverty of the working class, where the ’88 Cavalier goes to the junkyard only after it’s been stripped of both outer CV joints, where the farmhouse will stand for another 100-years, looking much the same as it does now.
I was born amongst these people and have lived with them for most of my life. And yet, I still can’t answer my brother-in-law. Except to say this: What’s to be gained? I’m not certain. But in their absence, I know full well that something is lost.

4.24.2007

Cheney Celebrates Earth Day By Breathing Oxygen
















Thank you, Onion: LINK

Risk versus reward















Conde Nast Portfolio hit newsstands this month. No, seriously, it creamed the newssstands. The thing weighs about 40 pounds, and is jammed full of heavy-lidded CEO porn from cover to cover. I felt rich just brushing up next to it.

The column that caught my attention was "Learning to love global warming" by John Cassidy, in which the author analyzes proposed solutions to climate change from a purist, economist perspective. You can't spell "analyze" without "anal."

Cassidy's take is so calm, so logical, so ....so CEO .... that i got about as giddy as Mean Bob in the press box at a Chiefs game. In the world of numbers, it's all about cost-benefit, about the money we spend now, and about the results we get later.

Thing is, cost-benefit is how cityfolk think. It's transaction based thinking. It's insular. It's short term. I pay you. You do this. I get this.

Up here in the sticks, there's a different philosophy. It's risk versus reward, and it's how backcountry skiers, whitewater paddlers, and just about everybody else that's ever strapped on a harness approaches the world. It's solution-based thinking. It's route finding. It's holistic. This is a problem. This is how we're going to solve it.

Without an open acknowledgment of risk ... it's nothing more than a cocktail party conversation.

4.23.2007

It's the hair, stupid


The only thing worse than getting busted for paying $225 for a haircut is having it done in New Hampshire.

LINK

4.20.2007

Hijacked


The recent furor over emissions standards in Vermont perfectly illustrates the hostage situation that has become our daily lives. Somewhere along the way – probably around the time US oil production peaked in 1970 – the association between “automobile” and “freedom” began to fray. And now, it’s become almost unbearably clear: We are slaves to our cars and by extension, the industries that provide those cars and the fuel they require.
It’s something of an irony that in here in rural Vermont, where so many of us lead otherwise environmentally and politically progressive lives, the car has such a stranglehold on our wellbeing. I think of my family: Smugly off-grid, virtuously raising much of our own food, conscientiously recycling and reusing. And inexorably linked to our motors, to the tune of nearly 20,000-miles per year.
Granted, some of this travel is purely recreational. I think of all my trips to Mad River and Jay Peak; my wife’s travels with the children to play dates and libraries. But much of it isn’t so frivolous. Groceries. Visits to the doctor. A load of hay for the cows.
Part of me is optimistic. Part of me wants to believe that we can bargain our way out of our predicament by rebuilding our communities and creating the localized economies that once existed throughout the US. But the realist in me knows we’ve got a ways to go. The automakers are challenging our proposed emissions law. The very fact that we’re airing their empty concerns is proof that we’ve got a long, long road ahead of us.

4.18.2007

One less coyote


In a landslide vote of 2-0, the official hat of wickedoutdoorsy.com has been selected.

Get yours here.

4.17.2007

Protein


One of our ewes lambed today.

You know what I'm thinking 'bout.

Mitt gets Mo Money

Perhaps the most fun since Tetris, the NY Times launched their interactive show-me-the-money map for 2008 presidential candidates. For any gift to date over $200, you can check by donor last name, by zip code, or by employer.

While the story for some is all about Barack going head to head with Hilary, the tale for me is all about the former governor of Massachusetts, Mitt Romney. Unsurprisingly, his largest base isn't coming from Beantown (255 donors, $2.5 million statewide contributions) ... but rather, from the beehive state ($2.7 million, 512 donors from Salt Lake City), where the Wasatch faithful are undeniably giddy about the prospect of the first Mormon frontrunner.

Somewhere, Jon Krakauer is smiling.

Take the test


The GreenNeck rises early…
… because he needs to filter waste vegetable oil for his F350.
The GreenNeck is hungry…
… so he shoots something. Because it’s, you know, local.
The GreenNeck buys his clothes at the second-hand store
… after all, he can’t afford new ones.
The GreenNeck owns two motorcycles
… because they get really good mileage. Yeah, that’s it.
The GreenNeck doesn’t buy bottled water…
… when he can buy bottled beer for the same price.

Seven reasons Vermont shouldn't secede


7. National Cleavage Day.

6. America's best informed people would rather watch fake news than Fox.

5. National High Five Day

4. One in six Americans commutes more than 45 minutes to work, each way, and thinks it's normal

3. National Sense of Smell Day.

2. A New York couple moving to Arizona took a 2,500 mile cab ride so as not to inconvenience their cats.

1. National Egg Salad Week

4.16.2007

Bode: GreenNeck?


On Friday I drove to Bretton Woods to interview Bode Miller. Bode comes off pretty much exactly as you’d expect: Surly and distracted, as if I were just another in a long line of journalists trying to get their piece of him and delaying the onset of cocktail hour. Which, come to think of it, I was.
Bode was at Bretton Woods for BodeFest. I’m not sure how Bode feels about it, but the day someone attaches the word “fest” to my name is the day I go fully underground.
Anyway. Turns out Bode’s on something of a green kick these days. There’s the new house at Bretton Woods, with geothermal heat and solar power. When I asked Bode if he meant solar photovoltaics or solar hot water, he looked at me blankly.
“Or maybe both,” I asked. (Why, oh why did I let him off the hook? Christ, he was almost squirming)
“Yeah, both,” he said.
I asked him how many kilowatts of solar pv. He didn’t know.
And then there's his new project, the purpose of which is “supporting health, diversity and sustainable living.” I asked him to expound on that mission statement. He said something about local agriculture. “I’ve gotta do something,” he said. “I mean, I’ve got five cars and two of them have V8’s.” He almost smiled.
Well, bully for Bode. I mean, this is all good stuff. And certainly I can relate to the contradictory themes that run through his life. But it all seems emblematic of our larger reluctance to truly face our demons. Like Bode, we’re still stuck in the collective thinking that we can buy and bargain the blood off our hands, without making any truly hard decisions.
It ain’t gonna be that easy. And the sooner we face that reality, the less hardship we’ll ultimately have to face.
I asked Bode if he buys carbon offsets for all his globetrotting. “No,” he said, “but I probably should.” Actually, Bode, that’s not even the beginning.

4.13.2007

The farmer


We have a friend named Morgan. Morgan is a farmer; with his wife Jen he milks about 80 head across the valley. A few years back, they transitioned to organic, and seem to be doing pretty well. You don’t get rich milking cows, but if you’re smart about things and work hard, you can do ok.
Morgan is at our place about every other month or so, helping us with one project or another. He owns two 100-plus horsepower tractors, which are really handy when you get a concrete truck stuck or need to move a barn (we did this last fall; we broke three chains and had great fun), or need to get 12,000-pounds of hay from one farm to another. The latter we did just yesterday, in a snowstorm, my two-year-old son Rye and I following Morgan in the Chevy, watching as the loaded wagon slithered down the slushy road.
Morgan’s dad is Melvin (and his two older brothers are named Martin and Matthew; the younger, incongruously, is named Jeremy). Melvin lives just down the road. For years, he plowed our 1300-foot driveway and charged us $25. This morning it gave me great pleasure to get up early, plow our drive, then continue down to Melvin’s and plow his. He came out of the barn and leaned against the doorjamb, watching. “I appreciate it,” he said.
There’s a lot of doom-and-gloom talk about the demise of farming in Vermont. I’m not saying it’s wrong; the small-to-medium conventional farms are struggling mightily. But there is also a growing subset of diversified and organic producers that remain vital. How long this can last is anyone’s guess. I’d like to think it’s going to be a long, long time.

Global warming protesters root for warm weather, feel even guiltier

There are 1367 actions scheduled in 50 states for tomorrow's National Day of Climate Action, including 66 in Vermont, and the kickoff for the Mad River Valley's Seven Days for the Earth.

The forecast? Snow, snow, snow.

4.12.2007

Nice try


File under I’d rather be skiing.
See also, should have bought a bigger tractor.

The Harvest


Yesterday I drove to Sunday River. It’s not a drive I make very often; Sunday River is best described as fat and flat, and those are not qualities I seek in a, um, mountain.

But Wednesday was day one of Heat Harvest 2, an event I was compelled to attend owing to my vague sense of duty to a certain magazine.

With assistance from the east’s finest purveyor of ski porn, the Sunday River crew had constructed an 80-foot gap jump that I found frightening just to look at. But I hung tough and watched as skier after skier after snowboarder hurled through the air high above that scary mound of snow. Some of them even landed.

I’ve never really understood the pipe/park/jib scene, and I still don’t. On a purely academic level, I know that what these guys are doing is really cool and really hard. But no matter how corked they get, no matter how many rotations they manage before landing in a spray of snow and shout-outs, I’m left a little cold.

Give me a powder day. Give me a tree line that starts as little more than a promise, and opens into the delivery: Enough space to backseat it a little, let the tips rise, and arc through the Vermont forest like the snow will never melt, like this winter will never end.

Which, come to think of it, it might not.

Surf's up

Greennecks indeed ... but definitely not frickin' meteorologists. The current forecast is 10" for today, 16" by Saturday morning.

4.11.2007

Red in the neck, green in the heart


So MK wants to know what I do to make a difference, environmentally speaking.
Well, shit. I’ve been holding out on ya’ll. Frankly, I’m a bit leery of talking too loudly and too muchly about our 1.8 kilowatts of solar photovoltaic panels. And our 900-watt windmill. And our two-collector solar hot water system. And the hot water loop my friend Paul and I rigged through the firebox of our Glenwood cookstove. And the cold box I built that serves as our fridge for the winter months.

I’m quiet about these things (except when I’m getting paid to not be) because somewhere deep within I’m conflicted about it all. I mean, I know it’s good stuff. But how many of my fellow Vermonters can afford to be so environmentally correct? We got lucky: Even though my freelance work bears modest financial fruit, I landed a good gig and was able to parlay it into donated materials for many of these projects. Me being a scammer and all.

It’s not like we had much choice. Our driveway is 1300-feet long; when we bought the land in ’97, we simply couldn’t afford to bring grid power back to our house site. For us, solar was truly cheaper. I like cheaper.

Still, I don’t talk about it much. Maybe it’s because I’m not really that committed an environmentalist. I love my truck and my saw. I love my tractor. I love motorcycles that can bring the front wheel up just by cracking the throttle in third gear. I love to drive for an hour so I can spend the next six riding a chairlift to the top of a mountain just so I can turn around and point myself downhill. I lead a self-indulgent life.

But that’s not even it. I think on some level I’m embarrassed to be so green. I’ve built an identity on living solidly and proudly outside the mainstream, on being so uncool I should probably pay some sort of carbon tax just for breathing. Lately, all that seems at risk.

In my town


In his town, they have net-zero electricity consumption through the use of solar panels mounted along the property lines of individual homes.
In my town, I reduce water use by washing my golf shirts only once a week.

In his town, they use flow-through "tankless" water heaters that provide on-demand, hyper-efficient hot water.
In my town, I group shower, whenever possible.

In his town, they ride to the office, regardless of the weather.
In my town, I always wave to bicycle commuters.

In his town, they derive a majority of community power through windmills.
In my town, I only watch television for two hours a day, unless there's a Bronco game on.

In his town, they milk their own cows, grow their own food and cut their own wood.
In my town, I only purchase small triple-mocha-decaf-no-foam-soy lattes ... less paper!

In his town, they drive diesel cars with a second tank that runs off of grease harvested from local restaraunts.
In my town, I help save the environment by eating more very tasty, very little donuts.

Step it up




Mission Accomplished?


On Monday night, Stephen Colbert pompously proclaimed that his custom Ben & Jerry's flavor ("Americone Dream") is the Vermont company's number one selling flavor. Unfortunately, according to the B&J website, it's not even in the top ten.

4.10.2007

Iron Maiden: Need or want?


Is a Vermont gas-guzzler tax a good idea?

I think not, and here’s why: The proposed $150 tax would add approximately one-half of one percent to the purchase price of the average new SUV or truck. If you find this onerous, you probably haven’t done the math. In fact, I think you should be laughing all the way to the bank, because $150 is FAR TOO LITTLE. I mean, you can afford to drop $30k on a new F250, and you’re really going to let a hunnert and fidy stand in your way? That’s pathetic, friend.

There’s been a spot on the radioof late. You might have heard it: Mama’s doing her best to teach her dear ones to respect the earth – why, her five year old sorts the recycling, fer chrissakes – but this tax… it’s just not fair. After all, thanks to her prolific breeding, she NEEDS a SUV, to shuttle her lil’ darlings, collect the groceries, and make her hair appointment.

My issue is not that she has three kids, nor that she chooses to drive a SUV (which likely gets at least double the mileage of my '90 Chevy 1-ton). My issue is with our collective confusion regarding needs and wants. Needs include: A roof over your head. Access to health care, sufficient calories, and clean water. Someone to love and someone to love you back. Anyone who thinks that they NEED a SUV because they have three kids/live on a dirt road/don’t like driving in the snow would do well to get the hell out of North America and see how the rest of the world lives. It’s not as if you’ve gotta go to some third world hellhole; most of Europe would do it (and the wine’s pretty tasty).

Do I sound self-righteous? Am I a walking, driving contradiction? Perhaps. After all, my life is full of wants: I own six pairs of skis, four bicycles (and half a tandem), and more vintage Iron Maiden albums than I should admit. None of these are needs. But then, I’m not claiming they are, am I?

Ben & Jerry's Flavor Graveyard


Vermont Impeaches & Cream

Don Imus' Deep Dark Chocolate Lover

Confluence Surprise!

Only a flesh wound II


These are the finest axes in the world. Yes, they are very sharp. No, that’s not paint on my kindling.

4.09.2007

Locked and loaded


Last summer, I bought my first gun. It’s not much of a gun, really – just a little single shot .22 magnum – but you sure as hell wouldn’t want to be on the wrong end when the trigger’s pulled.

I bought my gun for what I consider to be ethically defendable purposes: Namely, shooting helpless animals in the head. To date, I’ve dispatched a half-dozen pigs and two steers with my gun. And a hell of a lot of beer cans.

Shooting critters does not make me feel good. Sometimes, it makes me profoundly sad. But I do it because I choose to eat meat and because I believe that if I’m going to eat meat, I’m going to know what sort of life my dinner led and I’m going to be the one to bring that life to its end. If there’s any pleasure in it, it’s the pleasure in a clean kill and the quiet confidence that comes from putting food on your family’s table in the most elemental way possible.

This is not for everyone; this is not for most. But for me, it has become strangely addicting. Not the shooting, not the gory aftermath of loosing the innards, but the knowing of a way of life and skill set that’s largely lost in today’s industrial farm-fed society.

There is no economic justification for raising one’s own food; the industrial-farming model that is our food system makes it absurdly cheap to fill your stomach. But then, when I
raise my own food, it’s more than my stomach that’s getting filled.

Wicked leaks


Noooooooooooooooo!!!!! Wicked Outdoorsy's 2007 editorial calendar is leaked to a competitor ... LINK

Treehugger acquired by the Onion


"When researchers at the Thayer School of Engineering, Dartmouth College are not busy creating "scalable, solar-powered, science platforms for the Antarctic", they take their robots out for a bit of snow-surfing ... The fellow pictured above with the laptop is snow-surfing at about 5 mph." LINK

4.06.2007

Still Single


Went skiing today. It was a big day: 18-inches up top and not a bit the usual April mank. At Mad River, they were running only the single… giving it a little workout before it goes into retirement, I suppose.

Scoot and I skied Fall Line and Fall Dise and Octopus’s, where I always end up cliffed-out and confused, unless I’m following the optimist and his countess, in which case I end up a quivery puddle, thankful for every interminable second it takes the single to gain the summit.

I ain’t no meteorologist, but mark my words: This is the last powder weekend of the season. Hit it.

Definitely in Vermont

Thanks, Newt!

Might be from Vermont

Not from Vermont

4.05.2007

Let them eat green


There's a new ad campaign from Visa that dusts off a list of things to do while you're alive ... it's good old fashioned common folk stuff like having a glass of wine while on safari, owning a set of Frette linens, and riding a gondola under the Bridge of Sighs.

It also includes "volunteer to help save the environment." Undoubtedly, that afternoon affair will go down at a trendy little spot in Soho with great localvore foie gras and an excellent view of the self-healing icecaps.

As the countdown to Earth Day begins, the story that's beginning to form is that there's been a sea change (no pun intended) when it comes to the environment. That the world is awakening, and that the mighty greens are on the march.

Perhaps. But there's another significant change afoot. Green is becoming a passion of the wealthy.

The good news is that money drives markets, and when Teresa Heinz Kerry decides to install flow-through water heaters in all 173 houses ... cash registers ring. The bad news is that for another part of society, going green still only means a new paint job.

Two Americas can't pull this one off. Things like Vermont Technical Colleges's new Sustainable Design and Technology degree ... a program designed to create the next generation of green workers ... may not be as sexy as a filmmaking contest to win a free Lexus Hybrid, but they are just as important, if not more.

Only a Flesh Wound

I love my chainsaw. In Cabot, VT, that puts me in good company, which is to say, it puts me in the company of practically everyone.

I think the chainsaw is probably the finest expression of combustion on the face of the earth. In exchange for a gallon of gas and perhaps a pint of bar oil, you get enough firewood to keep you and yours warm for weeks.

I know that chainsaws are dangerous. Really frickin’ dangerous. That is one of the reasons I like them so much. I have raced motorcycles at speeds exceeding 150mph; it felt far more safe that running a saw. This winter I hopped off the biggest drop of my skiing life. It was fun and felt sorta scary. Running a saw is funner and feels scarier.

I have decided that if the world ever runs so low on petroleum products that I no longer have ready access to them, I will save my last gallon for my saw.

I have 12 cords of log-length firewood sitting in the driveway. I am eager for the snow to melt; excited for the moment when I climb atop it, yank the starter cord, and dig in.

4.04.2007

And then there were two


Wicked Outdoorsy is proud to announce the arrival of Ben Hewitt to our authors roster. As the official senior off-the-grid editor-at-large, Ben brings an unparalled perspective on bikes, biofuels, Buicks and the best ways to barbecue home farmed pork product.

Catch and Release

Iran releases British hostages. Meanwhile, back home in Vermont:

Governor Jim Douglas releases emotion; admits he's sailing in "uncharted waters"

Mother Nature releases April snowstorm; Jay Peak reports 78-inches in two hours

Congressman Peter Welch releases fart; promises to purchase carbon offset

Telemark skier releases money; vows to never do it again

Mad River Glen releases final plans for new single; shareholders in frenzy over missing pole hooks

At least one of these is true...

Have you hugged your biker today?


The Sugarbush Triathlon goes down this Saturday.

But looking at the forecast (snow, 32º), it might be a better day to go and ride the Mad River Glen Single Chair one last time before they tear it down, spend a couple million bucks, and replace it with a brand new .... um ..... single chair.

4.03.2007

4.02.2007

A drinking life

Journalism does not attract drinkers, nor does it create them. It is, however, one of the most stressful careers in the world, regardless of whether you're an editorial page writer for the New York Times or an outdoor editor for the Elephant Butte Morning Crier.

Journalists are paid to create, to be consumed, and to be criticized. They are tasked with being experts, analysts, and insiders for every topic in the world. They are tastemakers, kingmakers, and rumormakers. They are also woefully underpaid.

Journalists are only as good as their last published article. If it was pure poetry, then they celebrate that fact and they can't wait to do it again. If it sucked or was bestialized by an editor with an urge to rewrite, then they bemoan that fact and they can't wait to do it again.

Journalism is where culture and commerce overlap. It is the fourth estate. It is hard, tiring work. And sometimes, while the liver works overtime, the mind just wants to take the night off.

March 23, 2007: Who are NYC's drunkest journalists??

March 26, 2007: Favorite tales of previously noted drunk journalists.

March 30, 2007: Is there a connection between "booze and news?"

April 2, 2007: Are journalists pre-disposed to substance abuse?

Wicked April Fools