An Early Bah Humbug (and other random thoughts)

Random recent thoughts and notes:

• Happy Holidays. “Black Friday” repulses me. Better yet for such days: make a personal statement and don’t buy a goddamned thing. I’ve said it before, in a Dirtbag Diaries podcast about my years of working dead-end jobs and clashing with a heinously materialistic boss: “Shopping” as a stand-alone endeavor is not a valid passion. There’s nothing legitimate about buying scads of worthless crap you don’t need, just for the sake of filling some void. I also reject the notion that celebrating the holidays should have anything to do with the disgusting religion of mindless consumption that’s become a defining American value; never have, it’s a doomed road, there must be a better way. We’re all part of the problem, which, like most things, exists on a continuum. Solutions aren’t easy. But this morally bankrupt “Black Friday” madness represents our very worst. Better: get outside, walk, climb, breathe, spend time alone or with loved ones, give something away.

• Reading the list of Black Friday shopping crimes, including multiple episodes of violence nationwide at Wal-Marts (the same place at which the horrors reached a pinnacle a couple of years ago, when herds of stampeding mouthbreathers trampled one another to death while rushing through the doors), wouldn’t one think it a dangerous place? Surely more dangerous than the Occupy Wall Street camps that were raided and dispersed by authorities. (More dangerous aside from ideology, of course, and notwithstanding the well-documented police brutality against peaceful protesters.) The camps were disassembled due to, ostensibly anyway, filth and unruly behavior. Ironic, considering the filth of corporate greed and corruption that they were protesting. The greed and corruption has led to the biggest disparity in wealth in our country’s history, which, one could reasonably surmise, might contribute to the desperate and even violent search for “deals” on Black Friday. Again, the irony. In the immediate sense, Wal-Mart on Friday was far more dangerous than any Occupy camp.

• A bunch of grants are available for qualified adventurers. Some are due soon.
-Due Dec 1 (tomorrow): The Lyman Spitzer Cutting Edge Award application, made possible by generous contributions from Lyman Spitzer, Jr.
-Due December 15: The Mugs Stump Award application, courtesy of the generous people at Alpinist Magazine, Black Diamond, Mountain Gear, Patagonia, and W.L. Gore.
-Due December 31: The Polartec Challenge Grant application, made possible by the generosity of Polartec.
-Due January 1: the McNeill-Nott Award, thanks to the generosity of Mountain Hardwear.

Get on it.

• Patagonia is, hands-down, the best company I’ve ever been involved with, and my respect for them just grew. Check out the ad in Friday’s New York Times – and before you make a snap-judgment, read the text as well (and for further explanation, read their blog post) – hypocrites? Sure. Just like you. Just like me. Every one ofPatagonia's ad in The New York Times on "Black Friday." us. More importantly, they’ve got the balls and intelligence to examine themselves amid our toxic, mindless, dead-end consumeristic culture. Sure, the ad might also be good marketing, something we’ve come to automatically regard as equating to bullshit in today’s bullshit world. But Patagonia isn’t like most companies. For 30+ years Patagonia has led the way, as they continue to do, in showing that business doesn’t have to be all rape and pillage, greed and short-term dividends. What a concept, eh? The simplistic idea that we shouldn’t even discuss our problems is home of the frontal lobe impaired; pretending the elephant doesn’t exist just gets you trampled in the name of ignorance. Yes, the ad makes you think, elicits a reaction. Intentionally provocative, and they have the track record to back it up. Hell yeah, Patagonia.

• Speaking of which, upon returning home the other day – between Pakistan and other travels, I’ve only been home for about two weeks since mid-August – I was again struck by my wardrobe. (“O-M-G. You have, like(?), the most incredible wardrobe?!”) Beater car, 580 sq ft home, I pretty much wear the same three T-shirts over and over, but have accumulated too much “stuff.” Kinda gross, I know. I’ve accumulated a lot of Patagonia and Polartec clothes over the years, and as a result my size small friends are well outfitted with my hand-me-downs at this point. But I have more that I don’t need – mostly baselayers and midlayer insulation, with some shells and some climbing pants. Some casual wear as well. If you’re size small and need the clothes (meaning, not just if you want “free stuff” (yuk), but that you promise you’ll actually use it for getting out and being active), or if you know someone less fortunate and cold and in-need this winter, drop me a note. And let me know what you’re doing if you want, I’d love to hear it, I get psyched hearing of people doing cool shit. My email is on the bottom-right sidebar of this blog, and I’m on the Facebook. If I have something you could use, and you’ll really use it, I’ll gladly send it to you – on me, for free, merry holidays. Now get out and do something good.

• Like climbing. Which reminds me: here’s a good way to be efficient in acquiring quality memories without wrecking the place. Talking low-impact things, like extra pitches – climbing mileage. One recent afternoon in Yosemite, we started up the classic Serenity-Sons linkup, which I’d never done. We topped out just before dark, in November’s short days, and for once we’d actually bought headlamps. But getting farther down in the daylight beats spending more time in the dark. The route has fixed anchors/raps, so as I belayed-up my partner on the final pitch, I clipped-in to the anchor with a runner, untied myself, and threaded my end of the rope for rappelling as she came up (you need to be using an auto-blocking belay device to safely multi-task like this). As I belayed, I threaded the rope until the middle mark came to the anchors, and then I hitched it off to hold it in place. Since I’d already threaded the rope, within 30 seconds of her reaching me we were on rappel. Not a bad way to do things, as the sooner you’re down, the sooner you’re drinking margaritas.

Serenity Now! Great climbing, Serenity Crack, Yosemite.