Saturday, March 29, 2008

Alaskan Odyssey

I've tuned up me fiddle and rosined my bow
And I've sung o' the clans and the clear crystal fountains
I can tell you the road and the miles from Dundee
To the back of Alaska's wild mountains
And when all of my travelling is over
The next of the rovers will come
And he'll take all the songs and he'll sing them again
To the beat from a different drum
And if ever I'm asked why the Scots are beguiled
I'll lift up my glass in a health and I'll smile
And tell them that fortune dealt Scotland the wildest of cards
For the rovin' dies hard

Battlefield Band

Ok, so this is an open invitation to those wishing to work off those Nannys pints with a bit of outdoor adventure. Still pursuing a return-to-the-land agenda, I'm pushing on with the trip to Alaska this summer - and we have a few open spaces for a couple more bodies and backpacks. I expect to get out of Dodge (DC) by the last week of July and stay away as long as possible. The itinerary remains rather open, but we are seriously considering treks over the Resurrection Pass Trail (an appropriate Easter decision - Andrew Cusack will be pleased indeed) to Grizzly Bear Lake and the Iditarod Trail in Chugach State Park (I anticipate some fine trout dinners along the way). These will serve as primers for a run up to Denali and some back-country hiking.

Charles of Austria, Pray for Us!

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Tech About to Ruin the Last Great Race?

I know that I risk sending C into convulsions with this one, but the addition of GPS devices on 19 sleds in this year's Iditarod signals the final step into corporate whoredom for one of the world's last down-to-earth races. The Iditarod already made the decent into corporate sponsorship years ago, but the addition of GPS devices will give up the secrets of the course and the remaining subtleties of musher strategy during the run. Now techie-racers, backed by the likes of IAMS and Cabelas, will pour over the data and  compute the race rather than figure it out by trial and error. Sleds will begin to look like Nascar shells. Faceless 'atheletes' backed by Nike and loaded with 'data' will make technical runs, pushing aside the quirky characters that made this race an archaic gem of an event. The Bert's of this world are forced even further to the periphery, further marginalized by the uber-competitive junkie with no connection to the land who simply wants to win one more 'extreme' event by any means possible. This is just one more example of capitalism (the competitive desire to attract viewers for revenue raising) ruining the mystique of a great tradition. The privately funded local sleds have already disappeared for the most part; how long will local and intimate knowledge of the trail or the strategic arcana of the mushers remain a crucial element of the race? Oh well, at least these 'promoters' haven't discovered the Yukon Quest - yet! 
Ok, full disclosure: I have to admit it's good fun to watch the live tracking. (At least the Alaskans are still outrunning the Norwegian.)

Monday, March 03, 2008

A Small Part of Our Beautiful World

I know that there are miserable struggles in every corner of this world, all deserving far more attention then the trash we hear about on the news every day, but I've had to deal a lot with this particular one in school this year and I don't think its ever a bad idea to keep the atrocities of war from falling into oblivion. The following are drawings and pictures made during and following the second chechen war.

The following website is well worth your time.