Friday, January 27, 2012

my blog has moved!

i have decide to move my blog to please continue to follow me and read my writing there!

Friday, January 13, 2012

a magical connection

As someone who enjoys being outdoors so much, at all times of the year, it’s hard for me to imagine how anyone could not enjoy being outside. Over the past few years, I’ve introduced many students to rock climbing, hiking, winter hiking, paddling, cycling, running… and the list goes on. I measure the success of these trips in several ways, but one important indicator for me is whether or not kids come back for another outing.

Students who sign up for more trips usually say that they had a lot of fun the first time, that they enjoyed the physical challenge, or that they liked hanging out with their friends. Certainly none of them express particular care for the early wake-up and departure times or the long bus rides when we head up to the White Mountains to hike!

But I rarely hear students talk about the magic of connecting with Nature. Perhaps this feeling strikes us at the subconscious level, leaving us unable to explain the sparking of a new sense of life that we experience, a unity with beauty and a force much greater and more powerful than any of us can ever hope to be. I often wonder, in awe, at the majesty of the mountains, the geological history that that has been in existence long before we emerged on this Earth.

I wonder about how glaciers could carve the jagged peaks of the Whites or deposit house-sized boulders throughout the woods; how the Colorado River, its ceaseless currents slowly but surely slicing its way through massive rock, gifted to us the Grand Canyon; how wind and water have created the orange-red Arches that grace southeastern Utah… I marvel at how places like Everest, Rainier, Denali, and Acadia came to be.

These wonders leave me feeling small. And blessed. Blessed that I can see the beauty in Nature and all that it has to offer. Blessed that I can experience this connection. Blessed that I can share these experiences with others, helping them to develop a lifelong passion and love for being in the outdoors, and hoping that they, in turn, invite others into this magical world that we all share.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

starting off the new year the right way.

sponge-eric squarepants

What an awesome way to start 2012! It's been an unseasonably warm start to winter, and we did not waste an opportunity to head down to Lincoln Woods to boulder today! Here we were, on January 1, basking underneath a warm sun that, for another day, fooled us into thinking that spring is just around the corner. But with temperatures dipping into the 20s at night and a wicked* cold front rapidly approaching, who knows when our next opportunity to climb outside might be... It's certainly rare that we plan for outdoor climbing trips at this time of year.

We spent the afternoon playing at the Sit Down Boulders & Druid Stones, climbing a couple V1 and V2 problems. Despite all of the cars we saw in the parking lot, not many people made it to our section of the woods, and aside from one very excited climber we met, we enjoyed these boulders to ourselves.

Bouldering outside is very different from bouldering indoors. Holds tend to be more subtle, blending in with the rest of the rock. No tape marks the route, and we're left to figure out the sequence on our own. The ground is hard and unpadded, save for the crash pads that we place below the climbs. Jagged rocks protrude from every direction. The rock face itself is sharp. And because of this, falling outside is very different from falling indoors.

But bouldering outside means we get to be outside in January! So what if the climbing might be harder, or the falling a bit more dangerous? Different does not mean better, or worse; it just means different. The movements are still gymnastic and the problem solving still challenges our abilities. The social aspect of the sport remains. And so we take the skills we've acquired from spending hours at the gym and test ourselves on real rock.

lemon-lime, v1 (sit down boulders)

*In this sentence, wicked modifies "cold front" -- this is not your typical Bostonian use of wicked, which I tend to shun!

[photo credits: joanna d.]

Friday, November 11, 2011

fall at last!

With warm temperatures all through September and October, then the late-October snowstorm followed by a week of 70-degree weather, we finally have one of those Fall days that I love: Clear skies with a sun that seems to no longer radiate any heat, a stiff breeze, and crisp temperatures. The crunching of dry leaves underfoot as other leaves -- red, orange, yellow, and brown -- slowly drift downward from branches overhead. Geese in their Vs and other flocks of birds make their southbound migration, filling the air with the squawks and barks as squirrels hurriedly scamper about, fortifying their stores for the upcoming winter.

I went out for a run this afternoon. It's been a while since I've worn my Vibram Fivefingers, but I threw them on and set off. (And by "threw them on" I mean that I wrestled each one of my toes into the correct place!) It was one of those days when it seemed I always had a headwind, and try as I might, I felt like a slow-motion version of myself, pumping my arms and churning my legs through invisible molasses. Ten minutes in, the sky darkened, clouds rapidly skating across the sky, and before long, sharp pelting rain joined the headwind. It was turning out to be an interesting run.

I don't run with music. I love listening to my breathing, and to my feet striking the ground. Today, "On Melancholy Hill" by the Gorillaz runs through my head, the latest song to win my affection. I heard it last night while climbing at the gym; its subtle, yet driving beat provides the perfect accompaniment to my running.

After about five minutes, the rain stopped. For this I was glad, as I was in no way prepared for the sudden drop in temperature or for the rain. But I've experienced Fall. Whatever Mother Nature brings in the way of Winter, I eagerly await. Winter hiking. Snowshoeing. And skiing! I've only once ever skied before, but I loved it. I recently bought a pair of skis and boots and it's time to hit the slopes!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

a new diagnosis

Ever close your laptop and put it away, only to realize that you didn't actually do the one thing you meant to to accomplish? You got your computer out to check the weather, but instead, you checked your email, updated your facebook status, read the latest headlines, checked the sports scores, watched a youtube video, and then checked your email again. You look at the clock and notice that twenty minutes have elapsed. You walk away from your computer without any idea of when Hurricane Irene will arrive (not that the weather report provides forecasts anyway).

This has been happening to me a lot...

With the next next revision of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, currently on its fourth edition (DSM-IV), I anticipate a new disorder on the list.

Internet attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, abbreviated at iADHD, features persistent patterns of inattention when using the internet, manifested by people who do not typically display behaviors typically associated with an ADHD diagnosis. Symptoms can be so debilitating as to interfere with successful performance of planned online tasks in social, academic or occupational settings. Symptoms may lead to hours of lost time and temporary amnesia, with those individuals meeting criteria for iADHD may often have little to no recollection of what they did, read, or learned during that time.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

monterey morning

Morning arrives slowly in Monterey. Light fog, having settled overnight, remains suspended over the bay, its translucent curtain offering a hazy glimpse of the shores of Seaside and Marina. The sun's rays just barely penetrate the fog, scattering light across the sky from its post above the Eastern horizon.

Harbor seals laze on the beach in a protected cove while gulls circle and swoop overhead, chattering away noisily. The cacophany fills the air but does little to disturb this sleepy morning.

Jagged boulders jut upward from the water just offshore, exposed by the receding tide. Flocks of cormorants gather on these rocks, a massive convention of birds bearing their wings to the cool ocean breeze to dry their black, oilless feathers. Nearby, three pelicans effortlessly skim mere inches above the water, eyes locked on the water below for whatever may present itself as breakfast.

As my legs churn away, carrying me along Ocean View Boulevard toward Lovers Point, I pass other runners, walkers, and cyclists out for their morning exercise. Others have settled on benches overlooking the coast, absorbing the view, reading, and perhaps meditating upon the coming day as they sip slowly on their mugs of steaming coffee. A peloton of cyclists rolls by me, their conversations adding a human element to the noises of the morning -- gently crashing waves, cackling birds, and the occasional harumphing seal.

I see a man visibly perturbed, trying to read but hearing only the cawing of a crow, perched high above us in a tree. Ignorant of his grating voice, the crow continues his morning song, and as I turn to make my way back to our inn, I hear the man unleash a string of expletives, beseeching the crow to leave him in peace. "Caw, caw, caw! Go away, you f#@*ing bird!"

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

they had good intentions!

Last week we asked our students if they wanted to participate in an initiative sponsored by Cradles to Crayons, a non-profit organization that "strives to provide children up to age 12 living in homeless and low-income situations with the essentials they need to feel safe, warm, ready to learn, and valued."

Among the many things that the organization does includes filling backpacks with donated school supplies and giving them to children who cannot afford to buy these necessities (Ready for School Program). This year, Cradles to Crayons has also asked for short, handwritten notes that they can place in the bags with the supplies. What could be better than discovering a note written from one student to another, right?

In their flyer, Cradles to Crayons provided several sample notes, such as "Have a great school year!" or "Science is my favorite subject in school. I hope you find it as interesting as I do!"

Our students ended up creating over 200 notecards! However, as well-intentioned as they were, we had to remove several from the pile, deeming them unfit for the process. Here are the best of the worst. You can click on each to see a larger version.


I've been noticing that the "r" of "your" frequently gets lost in typed documents, but apparently it happens with handwritten pieces as well.


This is a very simple and direct message, but not as warm and fuzzy as we would have liked to see. The author of this card does not heed his own advice with this exercise.


I'm not quite sure what this student was intending, but I think he missed the point of the exercise. Certainly not the most inspirational message.


Subtle, but I think she's trying to say that being cool and paying attention are mutually exclusive.


Don't play sports because you love to play sports. Play them so that you can get into college. (And only sports will get you into college. Leave your cello at home.)


The misspelling of "should" is the most glaring error here, but I personally like the hyphenation of school. I think it breaks all hyphenation rules out there. I'm still left wondering, "Why should I feel good about school?"


School is not all that bad? Even with that correction, it's still not what a kid wants to hear on day one of the new school year.


Another imperative. As if one can simply walk into math class and say, "I'm not going to be confused on fractions today!" and actually have that happen. And then there's the fact that the previous card suggests that asking for help may not be an option... which is hard to swallow given the next note...


For those of us who like a challenge, I can hear a small "yippee!" emanating from you. But don't get too excited, lest the school bully shut you up.


I'm speechless. And I will rember to do my homework. No questions asked.