12.30.2008

The 42 percent solution

Woah. Over in New Hampshire, and other coastal states, the impending salt-water fishing license is starting to rile the troops.

We don't have no stinkin' saltwater here in the Green Mountains, but we thought we had a way to kinda/sorta help fund our cash-strapped Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department. For the last few years, Gov. Jim Douglas has spearheaded an effort to assist the department with a pretty good chunk straight from the General Fund.

But what the governor giveth, the governor also taketh away, something that was chronicled early in the fall.

And now we've got some even harder numbers: What was once a $2.1 million General Fund appropriation to Fish & Wildlife has been chopped down to $1.1 million which means things like improvements at fish hatcheries won't happen, some positions won't be filled, items like the annual wildlife calendar won't be produced, amphibian and reptile surveys won't be completed and new vehicles for wardens won't be purchased.

Yeah, times are tough and every department is getting whacked, but a 42 percent decrease in the amount of General Fund money to Fish & Wildlife?

The heck with a Great Lake designation, Maybe, to fund our fish and wildlife department better, we need to get Lake Champlain declared an ocean.

- MC

12.21.2008

Right on, brother

Although it was written from the PR perspective, this rant from Bad Pitch Blog is worthy reading for anyone, in any industry.

"... Face it, with people spending less and waiting to see which industries will die harshly, we are not going to be “rescued” anytime soon. To survive in this mess you’re going to have to have balls. And be fiercely un-mediocre in this time of sameness and safety. Our field will have to be the ones who constantly say to clients, vendors, partners and employees: I (or we) will not do any work that I (or we) don’t believe it. Let’s follow our instincts and not let the negative ones, the ones who wish to send crap releases that say nothing new, the ones who want to issue information-devoid, machinery-driven information to the press and others, guide us to failure. As my preamble stated, it all comes down to caring—like Asians and rice fields that Gladwell ponders with precision –so PR farmers who are in it to bide time will become nonunion baristas in a post-Starbucks environment... "


Read the whole thing here: LINK Bad Pitch Blog

12.17.2008

Recesssion proof?

...being sick to your stomach because it's dumping and you're going to work.

... hearing and feeling the slurp of a loaf of bread-sized trout taking that twilight fly.

... seeing your kids go bonkers inside a freshly set up tent.

... leading the way into fog-covered flatwater at dawn.

... breaking trail on the final push to the summit.

... banking corners on smooth and slightly moist singletrack.

... fresh tracks on Sunday. sore legs on Monday.

12.15.2008

No news is bad news

"From what we’ve heard,” said an outdoor industry exec to me this morning. “It’s a rare company (that hasn’t reorganized recently). And if they haven’t, they should probably have their head examined.”

Judging by the number of LinkedIn and Facebook requests coming in, I think that person was spot on.

Unfortunately, if you're older than a decent bottle of scotch, then you've been through this before.

My personal PR dance with downsizing dates back to the final puff of the dot-com bubble (spring, 2000). As the freshly minted Emissary of the Buzz, my new hire bonus was a single round of "hey, look how much money we just raised" PR followed by 13 months of periodic bloodletting. Good times.

I kept a work journal back in those days (sort of like a blog, except it was written with "paper" and a "ball point pen." Check Wikipedia), and waxed long and poetic on that first downsizing.

That cut stung for a couple reasons. Primarily because it was deep and harsh. But also because it was a surprise.

I never got used to it, but I did embrace the reality that downsizing is just as natural as rapid growth. Every company believes it’ll never happen to them. But guess what? It happens to everybody.

* What's the point of downturn PR? The primary goal of PR in a downturn is to embrace the opportunity to fill a vacuum. Namely, if you don't provide a story about your brand, someone else will. In PR circles, they call it “getting out in front,” meaning that you’re taking the opportunity to lead, even when it comes to bad news. This can be ginormously helpful in creating confidence and goodwill.

* Who's your daddy? In any reorg communication, take your time on the front end. Think about the news you are considering releasing. Think hard. Consider the reaction of each of your primary audiences: your employees, your business partners and your consumers (via the amplifier of your primary media players). If you’re fortunate enough to have a decent PR team in place, you’ll find that the message required for those three groups is very much the same: short-term stability, long-term stability, and overall stability. Did I mention stability?

* What’s your biggest concern?
Your biggest concern is not that the news will get out there – but rather that there’s more trouble ahead. You need to provide your trusty employees with a good reason to keep their resumes off of Monster.com. You need to explain to your business partners that doing business with you remains a good idea. And you need to provide some real transparency so that the media can trust that what you’re telling them is really all there is to know.

* Consider silence:
After the third round of dot-com layoffs, when the media had stopped covering the death spiral, the CEO asked me if we even needed to do a press release on the next round of cuts. He had a point. Not every layoff requires an official press release. If you didn’t do one when you hired that new division during a season of 125% growth, you might not need one when you let them go. However, since you will need to have a concise document for both business partners and employees, and since the message is likely the same for the media as well, creating an internal press release in advance of any downsizing activity is time well spent. Be prepared. Nothing looks worse in a reorganization than being disorganized.

* Can I trust the media?
Media coverage follows trends, just like everybody else. When things are good, stories of companies on the upswing dominate the news. When things are bad, the deathwatch seems to own the front page. But at the end of the day, the media are looking for the same thing you are … the chance to communicate a compelling anecdote to an eager audience. If you’ve been flying to close to the sun, then … sure … you may find yourself in the company of Eliot Spitzer. But if you truly believe there’s a silver lining in your story, then you owe it to yourself and your company to allow the media to find it.

12.10.2008

The last chair

I don't cry on chairlifts -- not usually, anyway -- but i did on sunday.

I had spent the day before among red velvet seats and gingerbread houses that filled the local theater as part of a community competition. There was Hartshorn's farm, looking both accurate and edible. The congregational church was there too, mighty tasty. And there was even a licorice-roped Single Chair of Mad River Glen, frosted with coconut and adorned with loaded Patrol sleds. Going further was a pristine recreation of Les Deux Magots, a spirited Fenway Park, and a pretty decent recreation of the Empire State Building.

A few had ribbons on them already. One winner was the beaver pond, the creation of elementary school sculptors Sophie and Emma, complete with a few furry little dudes and a melted Lifesaver lake full of candy fish.

Another winner was a four-poster treehouse that perked up above a lawn made of green Rice Krispies treasts. "Michael's Treehouse," read the label on the front of the gingerbread creation, spelled out in hard candy and confectioners sugar.

The Treehouse was a team effort, created by a batch of local adults and kids from Prickly Mountain, and their meticulous construction looked too good to eat, even for a sugar hound like me.

Although many of the gingerbread houses were available to bid on by silent auction, the Treehouse was not. So, I took the kids over and bid on Smurfland instead.

By Sunday, the gingerbread competition was a fond memory ...a Lake Wobegon kind of artistic explosion that can only happen in a place where the majority of the population simply hates their televisions. A touch of true local color, it became a central topic of chairlift conversations for me as I skied the day away.

Late in the afternoon, as a snow squall exploded, I hitched a chair with my friend Susan. Once again, I used gingerbread as a starter. But this time, I learned something.

Turns out that like the other gingerbread houses, the treehouse was a true replica of a genuine place. In this case, the treehouse was a living memorial for Michael, a neighbor, friend and father who was dying of cancer not that far away from where we were skiing. It was built by his closest friends, and will stand forever as a remembrance.

The squall cranked up a notch after I lost Susan, whirling itself into a white tornado of sorts and chasing away what little crowds there still were on a weekend day in December. I skied the rest of the day solo, riding high speed quads by myself and minesweeping the edges of a few worthy treelines. And I thought through it all.

I thought about my role as a neighbor and father. And I thought about my role as a cancer survivor, skiing almost three years to the day after my own date with intensive care.

What could I do, right then and there, for Michael? Should I head home and light a candle? Would a prayer help? Should I be in a vigil somewhere?

Eventually, the answer was crystal clear. I did what I would've wanted, had I been the one in bed and Michael been here on the hill. I breathed deeply of mountain air, and I skied until the last chair.

Michael died last night. He will be missed.

12.03.2008

November exercise regime

Lifted three pumpkin pies into rear of minivan.

Hiked back yard. Twice.

Sprained wrist while opening pint of Ben & Jerry's Cinnamon Roll Fantastico.

Rest day.

Held puppy.

Lifted bicycles onto garage hooks.

Carried case of wine (it was full!)

Ran 0.9 miles pretty fast. Stretched HARD afterwards.

Impressed small children with mediocre snowball accuracy.

Shoveled pile of slush. Got sweaty.

Poured strong cup of decaf.

Wore livestrong bracelet.

Wrestled with six year old.

Ate organic eggs.

Thought about gym membership.

Bore brunt of political conversation.

Tackled brother in law during Thanksgiving football game. Man that felt good.

12.02.2008

Think globally, write locally

My first newspaper job paid me $13,500. For a full year.

I was pretty psyched about it. But being 22 years old, I was also psyched about eating pancakes for dinner, potatoes for lunch, and stealing toilet paper from the newsroom stalls.

But let's face it. The pay sucked. I cranked out about 4000 words a week, 200,000 or so words a year, and (rounding up) racked up a sweet 7 cents a word. Not exactly a Fortune 500 career choice.

But ignorance was bliss. I didn't know that freelance writers even charged by the word. I didn't know that the food chain of freelance writers began by working with small regional rags (25 cents a word), matured into broader titles (a buck a word), and eventually honed in on national publications with the ability to pay some real dough (two bucks a word and up).

And I certainly didn't know that eventually I would be able to say with a straight face that I was overpaid.

As you might already know, newspapers in some parts of the United States are turning to a new source for their endless copy needs: glocalism.

One publisher in Pasadena is loudly bragging about his cost-saving move of laying off full-time US staff and tapping writers in India to cover town council meetings ... for as little as 1 cent a word. That's an annual salary of around $2000, in case you were wondering.

While the rest of the country is reaching across borders for everything from shrimp cocktail to chrome plated SUVs, it's tough to point a finger at the newspaper industry and ask them to just say no.

Unless, of course, you believe that news is different, that it's important, and that the line must be drawn there.

Unarguably, newspaper content has been mangled in recent years. The success of full-color, short-attention span news coverage has forced even the most holy of newsrooms to adapt. With arbitrary format regulations like "10 column inches or less" and "no jumps", newspapers have painted themselves into a corner with increasingly irrelevant coverage choices. Over the same time span, their profits have plunged.

Standing in 2008, for a "publisher" interested only in the bottom line, it's an easy choice to save a few bucks by switching bylines on their already crappy local news coverage. Who's going to notice? Who's going to care?

But journalism is different. It's an essential part of a community, whether you're in metro Denver or a tiny town in Vermont. Healthy newspapers help create healthy democracies. Without an engaged reporter and an editor breathing down his neck, you lose both conscience and context.

Take it another step, and it's not hard to imagine a day where the news won't be covered at all, or worse still ... that companies and governments will be asked to cover themselves.

Glocalism is a brilliant idea for creating content. Too bad it kills journalism along the way.

11.21.2008

Scent of a ... whoa, man!

Saving journalism, one giant step at a time:

"People’s Sexiest Man Alive Issue to Include ‘Scratch-n-Sniff’ Section ... Magazine tags stars with ‘sexy scents.’ "

LINK: Folio

The shadow of George Aiken

In mid-November 1984, Vermonters were bringing the wood in, deer hunting in wool and dusting off their rear-entry boots for the upcoming ski season.

We also spent this third full week of November back then mourning the loss of George Aiken, who, other than Ethan Allen, is perhaps the one Vermonter who exerted the most influence on national affairs.

Aiken died on Nov. 19, 1984. He was Vermont's governor from 1937-41 and U.S. Senator from 1941-1975. He was a Republican - not a cigar-smoking, pro-business, big-oil loving, bomb-the-shit-out-of-them neocon - but a Vermont Republican.

We could explain in detail just how un-Republican Aiken was, but Shay Totten in this 2006 Vermont Guardian piece does a splendid job in describing a real, honest-to-goodness Republican "maverick."

He was an environmentalist, a proponent of Eastern wilderness, a fisherman, a man who could - and would - eloquently attest to the value of outdoors recreation. He wrote books about berries and wildflowers, was the first to utter the phrase "Northeast Kingdom" and a maple sugar maker.

There is a wilderness tract in the Green Mountain National Forest and a building in Burlington that houses most of the University of Vermont's School of Natural Resources named after him.

We might never see another George Aiken again. He was one of the few politicians who understood there are some of us who cannot live without wild things and wild places. He found a friend in the forests, tranquility in the mountains and peace in the brooks and streams.

He worked to preserve Vermont's outdoor legacy for all of us - R or D, hunter or bunny hugger, farmer or mill worker. No, there weren't many like George Aiken, but there's even less a chance that somebody like him will surface on the national political scene ever again.

We have just quietly passed the 24th anniversary of George Aiken's death. We miss him today more than ever.

- MC

11.19.2008

Wicked Outdoorsy 2.0

Let me tell you a little bit about Wicked Outdoorsy. It's a big deal. A really big deal. In fact, if your brand doesn't have a Wicked Outdoorsy strategy, you should probably stop reading this right now. You're toast.

Wicked Outdoorsy is where it's all headed. Wicked Outdoorsy is the new Wicked Outdoorsy, and provides clear solutions to your Wicked Outdoorsy needs. Someday, everything will be Wicked Outdoorsy. Wicked Outdoorsy is wonderful. Lots of people love Wicked Outdoorsy. We can see why.

According to Wicked Outdoorsy experts, Wicked Outdoorsy is consistently ranked as the most important criteria for to success in Wicked Outdoorsy. Wicked Outdoorsy is essential to your Wicked Outdoorsy plans because Wicked Outdoorsy provides an unfiltered menthol cigarette of pure engagement to others that are Wicked Outdoorsy.

As many incredibly Wicked Outdoorsy people have said ... Wicked Outdoorsy is a conversation about Wicked Outdoorsy. Wicked Outdoorsy engages others who are Wicked Outdoorsy, and Wicked Outdoorsy is transparently Wicked Outdoorsy.

Wicked Outdoorsy provides Wicked Outdoorsy consulting, mainly because we're committed to being Wicked Outdoorsy ourselves. But make no mistake about it ... we also see it as a responsibility to help other brands and individuals overcome their sort of depressing lack of Wicked Outdoorsyness to become better Wicked Outdoorsy people.

Our services at Wicked Outdoorsy are cutting edge, innovative, and 100% Wicked Outdoorsy, including:

* Wicked Outdoorsy strategy: our Wicked Outdoorsy experts will design a coordinated plan of Wicked Outdoorsy tactics that are guaranteed to keep your brand at the forefront of the Wicked Outdoorsy movement. We are the undisputed experts in Wicked Outdoorsy (just ask anyone that's Wicked Outdoorsy) so you'd have to be a bit of a dolt to not hire us immediately.

* Wicked Outdoorsy monitoring: through a proprietary Wicked Outdoorsy application, we will evaluate your Wicked Outdoorsy attributes and keep tabs on how your brand is being portrayed within the Wicked Outdoorsy community. If I tell you how we do this, I'd have to kill you. But trust me, the results are pure Wicked Outdoorsy.

* Wicked Outdoorsy news release service: Wicked Outdoorsy's proprietary-conceptual-hydrophilic formatting is capable of miraculously transforming any traditional news release into one that is unmistakably, unrepentantly, and uncompromisingly Wicked Outdoorsy (Also known as Wicked Outdoorsy 2.0).

Wicked Outdoorsy is the most important Wicked Outdoorsy thing that you'll do this year.

Your Wicked Outdoorsy is counting on it.

Join the U.S. Ski Team

There are those who worry about losing their jobs.

And then there are those who worry that the layoffs will come too late to take advantage of early season ski pass rates.

The price is definitely right

11.18.2008

Greenneck rant of the day

"Why is gas $2.20 a gallon? Why didn't they keep it at 4 bucks a gallon since we were already used to paying that much? Then they could apply the money to pay down the $700 billion recovery package. It's easy. I could fix the financial crisis. Just give me a snowmobile, I'll do it." - Driggs, Idaho

11.07.2008

Fridaydream

I love the moment captured in this pic ...LINK

True colors

I didn't expect the world to change overnight, and I don't think other people did either. But there's been a crescendo of soberness to the last couple days, like waking up in the morning and slowly, eventually, finally realizing that it's only 4:45 a.m.

The frantic pace of the last year has taken us all for a ride. The urgency of peak oil, the inconvenient argument and an agent for change easily dominated the frontal lobes. And while it did, we welcomed the chance to push back the important: an uncomfortable, unenjoyable, unenviable business reality.

For the outdoor industry, the other shoe has not dropped yet. Yes, there have been layoffs. Yes, budget meetings are a drag (aren't they always?). And yes, people are actually happy, for once, to have a good chunk of their liveliehood tied to winter weather.

But the roof has not caved in, the floor is still sturdy, the metaphors are still functional ... and, aside from a black October, some outdoor brands and retailers are actually having a pretty sweet fall.

Some say it's because outdoor businesses generally fly so low to the ground that it's not very far to fall. Others argue that it's because outdoor leisure-time recreation is generally recession-proof. Personally, I'm happy to delude myself either way.

So it's possible that the sky won't break into little chunks of blue and white Schoeller soft shell and fall on our heads ... which would obviously be great ... but even if it doesn't, things will soon be very different.

The momentum of progress and publicity created by small, eco-conscious brands in the outdoor world (and beyond) is slowing. Press releases on magic bamboo pixie dust and organic knotweed construction have been replaced by "hey, we're still here" business updates. Media curiousity on the topic is drying up as well, as so-called innovations are seeming an awful lot like last year's news. And fueling it all, consumers are passing up green opportunities for a chance to save a little green.

The echo of this moment will have a huge impact on what gets built in the next few seasons. Green sales initiatives were based on a "let the consumer decide" strategy, meaning if it doesn't get bought, it dies on the vine. And when Sierra Trading Post starts overflowing with organic cotton mukluks, we'll know that polyester is coming back.

From a company perspective, it was already a hugely expensive proposition to do something as seemingly direct as switching to green materials. Some likened it to betting the farm, so to speak, on a better world. And with the pressure of battered consumer confidence ... well, you can do the math.

For those of us in the outdoor industry and even those who aren't, it's time to show our true colors.

If we really are as green as we'd like others to believe, now's the time to prove it.

11.05.2008

Going, going, gone

Backcountry.com co-founder John Bresee is not a normal businessman. He's larger, for starters. And wealthier.

When he and Jim Holland cranked up their "crazy" concept of an online retail operation back in the day, it was allegedly like that infamous Super Bowl ad where a roomful of IT guys happily gather to celebrate their first online sale ... then go silent when the sale counter starts spinning into the multiple thousands.

Jim and John jumped while others sat, and reaped the rewards. They deserve it.

Backcountry.com's growth is well documented (thanks to a former DJ and bagel baker), and their recent brand expansion includes a stylie print catalog that takes more cues from Powder than the Patagonia book.

As it should. Bresee served his time faithfully in Orange County as the editor of Powder in the late 90s. He also kept his pen alive with The Skier's Journal, and probably some other places that I don't know about.

Bresee wrote the opener in the new Backcountry.com catalog, and it reads much like his stoke-the-fire essays from long, long ago. But he's not a despondent ski bum anymore. He's not scraping for change and sneaking into hot tubs. He's a dot-com success story, a business owner who was scooped up by Liberty Media, and an honest-to-goodness rich dude. He's also a father, a skier and a smart fucking guy.

Simply put, Bresee's opening essay worked me over. It's a birthday letter to his young son, Penn. Amid some poignant powder prose, John passes on a sincere wish that snow and skiing still exist by the time his son is old enough to enjoy them.

As a ski dad myself, the note made me simultaneously hungry for winter and sick to my stomach. I hated it and loved it.

I groaned at the catalog's carbon-addicted celebration of two-stroke sleds and helicopters. I thought about the irony of a successful online retailer expanding their brand through newsprint. And I pondered the conspicuous absence of Keep Winter Cool, Save Our Snow, 350.org, or any other take-action-yourself responsibility from the book.

And yet, the essay had me riveted, craving the opportunity to plunge into deep powder with my own son ... yes ... before its gone forever.

The best ski marketers have always found a way to cultivate the addiction by providing an unarguable reason to drop everything and just go. Their job has never been to fix what's wrong or point out that your burning too much oil on the way to the mountain or not spending enough time with your family. It's to make you want to ski.

The good news is, they've definitely got that part figured out.

11.03.2008

Please vote "Yes" for Waitsfield Water

I was very bummed to hear that pro-water vote signs were taken down last night. Regardless of where you stand on any issue, taking down political signs is a reprehensible bush league move. no pun intended (even though it works).

I support the water vote. I support it because it will provide a required water upgrade for the Waitsfield Elementary School.

I support it because it will provide an infrastructure for clustered, smart business growth in the Irasville area, allowing the Mad River Valley to preserve its open areas for recreation, wildlife, and scenery.

I support it because it will improve the health of an already anemic business community in Waitsfield.

And I support it because it's already paid for.

Please vote yes for Waitsfield water.

10.29.2008

Surrender

Instead of slashing jobs (like Gannett, which announced 3,000 job cuts yesterday), the Christian Science Monitor has decided to spare the messenger ... but sacrifice the medium.

LINK: CSM ceases print edition

10.24.2008

The ultimate outdoor gift



If you haven't seen them before, don't worry. You will. Gibbon Slacklines are destined to be the next big thing for backyards, barbecues, and illegal campsites everywhere from Mad River Glen to that field on the backside of Muir woods.

Incredibly addictive, the Gibbon is only $80. No batteries required, cheaper than a golf club, safer than a bicycle ... it's definitely the ultimate outdoor gift.

Wider than a "traditional" slackline (it's 50 mm, just shy of 2") the Gibbon is easier and more welcoming to beginners, but still serves up a worthy platform for the tricksters out there.

And with an idiot-proof hitch, it goes up in less than 3 minutes. Worthy.

LINK: Gibbon Slacklines

10.23.2008

Manly bike 4 sale

"What kind of bike? I don't know, I'm not a bike scientist. What I am though is a manly guy looking to sell his bike. This bike is made out of metal and kick ass spokes. The back reflector was taken off, but if you think that deters me from riding at night, you're way wrong. I practiced ninja training in Japan's mount Fuji for 5 years and the first rule they teach about ninja biking is that back reflectors let the enemy know where you are. Not having a rear reflector is like saying "FUCK YOU CAR, JUST TRY AND FIND ME"."

LINK: Best of Craig's List

10.20.2008

Our advice? Stay home

If you’ve ever fantasized about scaling Mount Everest, think again. A new study of professional mountain climbers shows that high-altitude climbing causes a subtle loss of brain cells and motor function. LINK

If you've ever dreamed of skiing untracked powder at Mad River Glen, think again. Anecdotal evidence of professional freeskiers and those who wish they were shows that the unrestrained joy and fluidity of motion causes a not-so-subtle loss of social skills and career ambition. Attempting to ski on Saturdays may lead to blurry vision, headaches, and pain while urinating.

If you've ever spaced out during a meeting while dreaming of Kingdom Trails' singletrack, think again. An unsubstantiated study of mountain bikers with unrestrained access to variable terrain singletrack shows that day after day of high-speed rolling action causes a distinct loss of short term memory loss and liver function. While unfiltered singletrack is a concern, much more so is the emerging issue of "secondhand singletrack": a billowing, floating spray of "dude that was so sweet" and "you should've been there" that can lead to parking lot thrashings and 2x4 planking ambushes.

If you've ever dreamed of standing alone in the heat of summer and casting to schooling stripers on the coast of Maine, think again. Three out of four dentists have proven in clinical tests that adding more people to the sport of fly fishing will only make their favorite fishing spots more crowded. The tests also conclude that the combination of relaxation, excitement, warm beer and cold sandwiches can lead to job loss and marital disfunction. Side effects of erections lasting more than four hours are uncommon, but if you have one, take a picture.

Red, Blue and Orange


In the tiny heart of the Vermont summer, I thought things would be different this fall.

I thought we'd be hunting more.

Not "we" meaning me and my friends and family. But "we" meaning the larger population, the Greennecks in cities and towns across the country, and specifically the non-hunting people who've been increasingly concerned about food.

It was an extrapolation. A plausible future for the localvore track that ended up with housemoms and golf dads spending a few days every fall looking to fill their freezers with locally grown, organic, free-range whatever.

It was a leap, I know, but it made sense in that X + Y = Z kind of way. I could see it happening. I could see Bill McKibben and Ariana Huffington in orange flannel. I could imagine both Angelina Jolie and her lips bringing home a buck for little Brad and the kids.

But then we met Sarah Palin.

Full disclosure: to call me a hunter would be about as accurate as calling me a climber. In both cases, I've been there, I've done that, but mainly it was just to enjoy the post-event benefits.

Along those lines, it would be equally flawed to call me a Sarah Palin supporter. I'd rather be James Caan in Misery.

But since Governor Palin's nomination to the GOP ticket, the sneering remarks about hunting have caused even me ... a once-every-other-year fair-weather hunter at best ... to cringe.

From friends, from strangers, from Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, from newspapers and magazines to Facebook and MySpace, the down-your-nose disparaging of Governor Palin because she "hunts" (said with maximum iciness) has been constant.

Regardless of whether people consider themselves to bleed red or blue, the broad brushstrokes of anti-orange sentiment have been an unfortunate side-effect of an incredibly contentious election year.

10.15.2008

The Sequoia memo: "Get real or go home."

WHAT THEY SAID:

"Today, Sequoia Capital hosted a mandatory CEO All-Hands Meeting on Sand Hill Road (where else?). There were about 100 CEO's in attendance and let me tell you, the mood was somber. I'm not one to perpetuate doom and gloom or bad news, but let me underscore this for you: We are in a serious economic downturn and this is just the beginning. Immediate, decisive and swift action is required, along with frugal, day-to-day management of expenses and our business is required.

Slide projected on the huge conference room screen as people assembled inside the conference center to take their seats: a gravestone with the inscription: RIP, Good Times.

The only time Sequoia's assembled all CEO's like this was during the dot.com crash...."

WHAT THEY PLAN TO DO:

* Cut unnecessary spending, immediately.
* Focus on quality.
* Sharpen the point of their marketing message.
* Rely on aggressive PR and communications.

LINK

10.09.2008

Recovery

I have a feeling I’m not alone.

I have a feeling that I’m part of a group, a very large group, of people who have spent the the last few weeks staring at NYSE daily charts like they were ‘magic eye’ lithographs, waiting for a shark or a ship or maybe chicken to emerge and finally, finally … finally provide some sort of answer.

But I stopped looking at the chart today. I stopped listening to nonstop ‘crisis’ coverage, and I started thinking about recovery and what it really meant.

It was then that I realized I’d been through this before.

From an economic crash or from cancer, the process of recovery isn’t all that different. It’s not a short-term deal. It’s not a long term deal. It’s not even a really, really long term deal.

It’s forever.

As a cancer patient, the first rule of recovery is that there is no good news. There’s only news.

In the heat of cancer treatment, the words of an oncologist are like water in a desert. Every sip is essential, as each cupful is mined for every possible bit of nutrition and every possible meaning.

But after a certain point, things change. And you realize that the only good words you’ll ever hear from your oncologist is that they don’t want to talk to you any more.

Think of it this way. At this point in the economic recovery, we’ve met with the surgeon and we’ve OK’d the use of chemotherapy. We made our decisions based on statistics and excel spreadsheets and groups of doctors at the “tumor board” breakfast who reviewed our charts and our personal histories and then signed us up for some of the most severe treatments known to man.

And now, the fun begins.

By the numbers, it was an easy choice. But just because we made the decision to take action doesn’t mean we get a medal. Surgery is scheduled for a few weeks from now. And then there’s chemo.

We’re going to have a scar. We’re going to spend much of the next year being nauseous and weak, and we’re probably going to have some lingering impacts that we’d rather not think about let alone talk about. But at the end of the day, we know it’s the right thing to do. For ourselves. And for our children.

You don’t recover from cancer by admitting that you need surgery, or by agreeing to have chemotherapy. You do it by getting the surgery, by going through the treatment, and by doing your best to live your life in the time you have left.

Recovery is an acknowledgement of uncertainty. It’s a contract with ourselves to avoid the mistakes of the past, to appreciate what we have, and to hope for the best for the future.

And that’s where we are now. The recovery is up to us.

Help wanted

HELP WANTED: Big name athletes, mid-level wannabes, over-the-hill ACL recoverers and no-name groms who just pulled their first trick are needed IMMEDIATELY to boost the pro roster of 350.org, the little climate-change organization that could. To join, to learn, to get more exposure for your little expedition, hit up my man Charlie for all the necessary info (email to charles@350.org)

HELP WANTED: College students in the 30 million acre Northern Forest (New York, Vermont, Maine, and that other state)looking to boost their post-college green-savvy job skills are needed for the first-ever CLIMATE CHANGE AWARENESS CONFERENCE, hosted by the Northern Forest Alliance at Dartmouth College, Nov. 1-2. Spaces are limited, and the list of colleges who aren't attending is a telling one indeed. To get set up, email smartin@nfainfo.org for all the beta.

HELP WANTED:
Armchair ice climbers, noon-hour adventurers, and everybody who's ever picked up a copy of Outside magazine and said to themselves, "Damn. My life is so lame.", are needed to enter the CHOOSE YOUR ADVENTURE SWEEPSTAKES hosted by the guys at Gear Junkie. Not only does the winner get to pick from a list of options including a Mount Washington Winter Climb, Sequoia Winter Mountaineering Clinic, Yosemite Snowshoe Trip, Ice Climbing Basics in New Hampshire or a White Mountains Hut-to-Hut Snowshoe -- but you also get to have the Junkie himself, Stephen Regenold, come along. Hopefully he'll wear his Evel Kneivel gloves. LINK

10.08.2008

Ibex tent sale ... the haiku

Three days. Starts at 9.
Friday, Saturday, Sunday.
Bring your Visa card.

Peak foliage comes
just one time a year, at best.
Shak is forever.

Thousands of shoppers
drunk on the prospect of far
reduced merino.

A pregnant woman
wrestles wool from her sister.
That's mine. You cold bitch.

LINK: Ibex tent sale, Oct. 10-12, Woodstock.

10.07.2008

Crystal clear

"AS THE financial crisis pushes the economy back to the top of voters’ concerns, Barack Obama is starting to open up a clear lead over John McCain in the opinion polls. But among those who study economics for a living, Mr Obama’s lead is much more commanding. A survey of academic economists by The Economist finds the majority—at times by overwhelming margins—believe Mr Obama has the superior economic plan, a firmer grasp of economics and will appoint better economic advisers."

LINK: The Economist

The Class of 1987

Average age of outdoor industry CEO, according to OIA: 44

Age of average outdoor industry CEO, the last time the market tanked (1987): 21

Year that the movie "Wall Street" proclaimed "Greed is Good": 1987

Year that college seniors realized that a job in mid-mountain food service doesn't sound so bad: 1988

10.03.2008

Letter from Boston: the 2008 OIA Rendezvous

You are driving your family on an icy highway, and you lose control of the car.

As if gravity suddenly turns its back on you, the tires lose traction, the steering wheel spins, and your brain acknowledges the reality that you're going to hit something. Hard.

But you don't know what that something is going to be. So you hope that the coming impact is minor. That the impact is only a tree.

Only a tree. It's incredible to be rooting for impact with a giant fixed object that's sure to snap an axle and total the car and probably shatter at least two windows. But that's what you're doing. That's what we're doing. And that's the world as it stands right now.

Framed by an uncertain future, there was indeed something special about the election year OIA Rendezvous, completed last night in the grand city of Boston.

Structurally speaking, the format was no different than any OIA event held in the last decade. Speakers. Food. Booze. Speakers. Food. Nap.

But by virtue of the timing,... and I mean timing of the bad kind, the unexpected and staggering arrival of generational, game-changing shifts within mere days of eachother ... it was a truly remarkable and worthy event. Led by the most sobering, realistic, slap-in-the-face batch of keynotes and breakout sessions I have ever attended, I left the gathering inspired, energized, and (ironically) fully fueled up.

Undoubtedly, the speaker list was nailed down months ago: economics, politics, and consumer trends, as usual, were keynote priorities. They're ALWAYS keynote priorities.

But when the market is slipping, the election is tightening, and consumers feel more comfortable growing chickens in their backyard than buying a Costco card ... those keynotes were ingested and digested by a silent, rapt and concerned crowd.

The keynotes -- superstud Robert F. Kennedy Jr, economist Clyde Prestowitz, trendspotter Marian Selzman, NPR's Ken Rudin -- admitted their own uncertainty, comfortably turning to unscripted realism instead of canned powerpoints for impact, and left the gathering of CEOs with a head full of ideas about what the future might hold for those who live and love the outdoor lifestyle.

For all that's bad in the world today, and for all the things that scare the shit out of us as parents and business owners and friends, the big takeaway from the OIA Rendezvous was that outdoor world is more important, more relevant, and more essential to the future of our world than ever before.

Don't take my word for it. Just look around.

October surprise

Ralph Nader speaks at fundraiser at the Big Picture Theater in Waitsfield, VT. Sunday, Oct. 5, 4-6pm.

If you're looking to throw a wrench in it, here's your chance ...

10.01.2008

Profile of the day: Tom Eagleton

A vice-presidential candidate who was removed from the ticket 18 days AFTER the Democratic National Convention ...

LINK: Wikipedia
LINK: Time
LINK: NPR

9.26.2008

Livestrong: the Lehman angle

Sure, you've won a couple Tour de France titles. You've beaten cancer. You've birddogged just about every single female West of Matthew McConaughy. And now, you're going to try and come of the couch to compete in the most challenging sports event in the world.

Just to add a little twist, it turns out you'll also have a hand in getting the bruised and battered Lehman Brothers back on their feet.

By switching to Team Astana for your Tour de France run, you'll now use SRAM bike components as opposed to the Shimano gear you've raced on up till now.

Funny thing. Turns out, Lehman Brothers bought a $200 million stake in the bike brand ... last month.

LINK: Wall Street Journal

And now, a word from our conscience

Find us on Facebook.

9.24.2008

How to build a better bailout

Today's must listen: explaining the essentials of the proposed $700 billion bailout, and why Americans deserve better.

LINK: NPR's Fresh Air, with Gretchen Morgenson

9.23.2008

Charismatic megafauna vs. the world's prettiest energy source

Precedents, precedents, precedents ... as a proposed wind turbine project in southern Vermont runs headfirst into bear country, wind advocates and conservation groups are heading to court to try and thread the needle.

The project is the first proposal to place wind towers on U.S. National Forest land, and brings up some big time questions with a long-term impact ... how can renewables prove they're any different than drilling when it comes to environmental impact? Should wind projects on public land scatter or cluster their wind towers? And when the towers come to your forest, what will you do?

LINK: Burlington Free Press

9.20.2008

Hans is from Mars, Franz is from Venus

“The fitness-oriented manage life (i.e., seek to control it); the outdoor-oriented ride the waves. The fitness-oriented tend to be lone wolves; the outdoor –oriented tend to be pack animals.”

LINK: Why we hate gyms

This is your brain on asphalt

"...I didn't start wearing a helmet regularly until AFTER I WOKE UP FROM THE COMA..."

LINK

9.16.2008

Coming soon

A sneak peek at what's coming this winter on RSN Outdoors.

TGR: "Under the Influence"

Level One: "Turbo"

Tough Guy Productions: "Harmless"

Sweetgrass Productions: "Handcut"

Poorboyz Productions: "Reasons"

Sandbox: "All Day, Every Day"

9.12.2008

Explaining Sarah Palin

An uncurious intellectual lightweight, nominated to run on the Republican ticket for Vice President of the United States of America.

A young politician consistently labeled as "far too inexperienced" to be a heartbeat away from the Oval Office.

A card-carrying far-right emblem, rallying red meat conservatives by virtue of their principles alone.

A pretty face, lightening the age-load of a Presidential candidate known as a war hero and an elder statesman.

A candidate that altogether ignores the other VP and issues direct, personal challenges to the Democratic presidential nominee.

A gigantic media distraction from the instant of their announcement.

A magnet for media criticism, drawing fire away from an "out of touch" running mate considered to be vastly removed from the economic plight of the average American.

Credited with a huge bump in the polls following the GOP convention, rallying the ticket from 15 points behind to a solid edge.

A seemingly dumb choice that worked exactly as planned.

LINK: James Danforth Quayle, Vice President of the United States (1989-1993)

9.11.2008

I remember

I remember where I was. I remember the office closing early, and the staff of a dying dot-com play going home to “be with their loved ones.” I remember sitting on the beach, noticing that no planes were flying, no boats were moving, and the bay was essentially dead. I remember riding my bike to work the next day with an American flag jutting out of my big blue Camelbak. I remember watching the concert for New York, and crying when Billy Joel played.

I hate Billy Joel.

I remember launching my business that fall, with an overflowing cup of optimism on August 11 and some serious concerns 60 days later. I remember choosing a business name that was decidedly optimistic and deliberately vague. I remember telling an old friend in the business that I was planning to start my own communications firm, and I remember him taking off his glasses and rubbing the bridge of his nose.

I remember a flood of consultants hitting the trade show circuits with new business cards, made-up titles and bubble-fueled big thinking. I remember my goal of signing one client a month. I remember going to an office with no clients and an empty email box. I remember looking at Monster.com every single day.

I remember entertaining one serious job idea from Southern California. I remember flying out and meeting with Orange County Realtors. I remember driving on a 12 lane highway to check out some more affordable options. I remember coming home a few weeks later, sitting at the kitchen table, and my wife telling me she was pregnant.

I remember going to SIA to network, and getting nowhere. I remember Hixson asking me point blank “what ARE you doing here?” I remember having dinner at a martini bar that night and the conversation shifting to a possible invasion of Iraq. I remember Geraci saying “show me the proof.” I remember me disagreeing.

I remember saying that if you don’t live on the East Coast, you don’t get it. I remember saying that by being closer to the tragedy, my own attitudes toward projection of military force had changed. I remember sincerely believing that a government by the people, even one I hadn’t voted for, would still act in the best way for the people.

I remember two years of checking the mailbox, and instantly depositing whatever might be there. I remember having the conversation that we might need to sell the house.

I remember Colin Powell testifying to the United Nations. I remember reading Joe Wilson’s letter in the New York Times. I remember wondering why anybody at the Pentagon would talk to Seymour Hersh. I remember Thomas Friedman doing a full 180 on the war. I remember meeting new people every day who said they had been anti-war from the beginning. I remember meeting one woman who said she was a hawk.

I remember wondering what was going to happen next. I remember wondering what might have happened had Al Gore fought harder. I remember giving money for the first time to presidential election campaigns. I remember Howard Dean's scream. I remember John Kerry getting the nod because he was more "electable."

I remember hoping that in four years, something would finally give.

9.05.2008

Greenneck conference calling


"The Telemegaphone is a 23-foot loudspeaker, erected on top of a mountain, that receives phone calls and then projects the voices (your voice when you call) out over the lovely and remote village of Dale, (Norway)"...

Here's the number: +4790369389

LINK

9.03.2008

Poached


Excerpted without permission from the September 2008 issue of POWDER magazine. It just arrived on newsstands. Please buy it.

"DEAR JAKE BURTON CARPENTER

On behalf of all your upper class, white customers, I would like to thank you and your giant corporation for fighting the "facist" depredations of four ski areas. Thanks for taking a break from making American Express ads to take on this massive source of human suffering and injustice.

A $5000 prize to any snowboarder who provides video documentation of poaching the four ski resorts that of last winter didn't allow snowboarding? That is impressive. I bet you make that much in 15 minutes of filming for your Hewlett-Packard commercials.

Trying to create division where there is none in order to keep your brand "anti-establishment" reminds me of Chevron talking about all the great things they do for the environment: It's self-serving trash from the rich and powerful. Now that your monopolistic corporation has crushed the small rider-owned companies, it's time to fight the Man!

When you characterise these ski resorts as "facist," you're likening them to dictatorial regimes that systematically exploit and murder people. Considering that snowboarders as a demographic are among the wealthiest, freest, most privileged people on the planet, and that your sport and fortune wouldn't exist without skiing, I think you can find a better cause. If you want to fight human rights, start by moving your production out of China ......"

Oh ...It gets better. Pick up the issue and turn to page 38 for the full story.

LINK: POWDER MAGAZINE