Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Trip Report: Truther Routes

In climbing, the first ascensionist has always named the routes. Sometimes you end up with fitting names, Day Tripping at Red River Gorge for the tallest route or Crack Attack for a pure splitter crack. Sometimes you end up with funny names, like No Brain, No Pain or Yu Stin Ki Pu.

Then there's what I've started calling the Truther Wall.  I've also heard it called the conspiracy wall.  It's a small section of Secret Garden at Miller Fork. These route names are by far the worst I've ever heard of - four routes with website names like patriotsquestion911.com or Rememberbuilding7.org.

It's propaganda..at the climbing wall. And it makes me ask: how much ownership should a first  ascensionist really have over their routes? Sure you added some bolts, cleaned off lichen and hopefully trundled loose rock. But the route and the rock weren't created by the first ascensionist.  The route was always there, waiting to be found.

What makes matters worse about these particular routes is that not only are they terribly named, they're horribly bolted. The first ascensionist appears to have added bolts on rappel without any concern for where the holds or moves are.  Fortunately, someone added a bolt to Truther #1 to prevent you from hitting the ground if you fall, but the holds on Truther #4 don't even follow the bolt line. If you try that path you will fall. Instead, you have to traverse way far to the right then move back towards the holds. A slightly shifted bolt would have made the route safer and more logical.

What do you think? What rights should the first person to climb a route really have?

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Podcasts aka why I don't read as much

I'm in a bit of a reading slump.  Not sure how it started, but on my lunch breaks I started listening to audiobooks from the library. Then I ran out of good audiobooks on the online system. Who knew you could run out of books you wanted to read?

Then I discovered podcasts and it was love at first listen. Seriously, if you like audiobooks and haven't delved into podcasts you're missing out. They're like never-ending audiobooks. There's always a new episode or new show you can listen to.

My Favorite Podcasts

  1. Missing Maura Murray
    For the mystery lover, this is your podcast. The case of Maura Murray is baffling. Maura disappeared in such a short time frame, it seems crazy that nobody noticed. This case has so many different bunnytrails. Lance and Tim do a great job of keeping the show interesting, while being respectful of the family and people involved.
  2. Up and Vanished
    This podcast began my love of true crime podcasts. It's well-produced and engineered. The case is also fascinating.  The only complaint I have is the community surrounding this case is pretty full of drama with Facebook groups and secret Facebook groups.  Just avoid it and listen to the story.
  3. True Crime Garage
    Nick and the Captain explore a different case every week (or two if there's a lot to cover). They're entertaining, respectful and sometimes righteously angry at the players involved.
  4. Vox's The Weeds
    I started listening to this podcast when I was overwhelmed by politics. For me, it felt like everyone was always yelling at each other. This podcast is a nice contract, an intelligent deep-dive into politics.  I also recommend Wordly and The Impact which are spin offs of this podcast.
  5. Left, Right and Center
    Everything I said for The Weeds is pretty much same for Left Right and Center. This podcast brings together commentators from across the political spectrum who discuss what's happening in politics. It's nice to hear different perspectives in a respectful medium. 
  6. Lore
    For lovers of folktales and fantasy, lore should be on your podcast list.
  7. Heaven's GateThis new podcast gives an in-depth look at everything that happened with the Heaven's Gate cult. It's fascinating and respectful, likely because the host grew up in a cult himself and understands the experience.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Books I've read: The Epic Catching Up Post

So it’s pretty obvious I quit blogging. I’m not sure in what capacity I’m back. I simply don’t have the time that I used to (and honestly am not sure where it went). But I miss writing. Aside from press releases and work-related social media posts, I feel creaky and rusty in the creativity department. Also I’m trying to curb my current Netflix habits (seriously why am I watching so much Netflix?).  So I’m sort of back!  And don’t worry I have a few posts written, both about climbing and books, so this won’t be a one-off.

Let’s Get Lost - 2 stars
This was a meh-fest for me. The whole premise felt contrived, a hipster-tastic manic-pixie dream fest that was almost unreadable.  It’s maybe a miracle I finished the damn thing. The book is divided into a few different mostly-independent and unconnected stories (except for a character bridging them). Some of the stories were really annoying, with a case of insta-love and some were a little more compelling.  Overall the whole thing just grated on my patience.

Goldenhand - 5 stars
Thank you Garth Nix for being reliable. Also, I’m extremely grateful for a Lirael and Nick story.  I adore Lirael, and loved seeing her grow into her role as Abhorsen-in-Waiting. These two are so awkward and delightful at times. If you have not read the Abhorsen series it’s highly recommended.  This book was worth the wait.

Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center - 4 stars
I’ve been a feminist for as long as I can remember. Some of my earliest memories are railing against gender roles and asking questions about why boys and girls were treated differently. However, I’ve never done much reading on feminist theory. I wanted to read something that dealt with intersectionality. This book was so relevant I was surprised that it was published in 1984. It was a little heavier than I normally read on my lunch break but probably more enriching.

The Name of the Star - 3.5 Stars
For some reason I had low expectations for this book but actually really enjoyed reading it.  Isn’t it funny how expectations can either ruin or improve upon a book?  It’s been a few weeks since I finished it and I took no notes (since I wasn't blogging at the time) so about all I can say is that it was a pleasant surprise and I plan to continue the series.

Sorry for the lack of details in these short reviews.  I wasn’t thinking about blogging when I wrote them, just reading for fun.  

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Top 5 Climbing Routes I've Led

A look back on some of my favorite climbing routes that I've led. For all my book blogging friends here is a handy list of climbing terminology. (It's missing a few terms but I'll look for a better list soon).
  1. Bathtub Mary
    As my first 5.11a send, this climb will always be special. I’m not sure I could think of a more perfect climb. It has everything, perfect pockets, to a slabby crux, then gently overhanging crimps, a giant sit-down rest inside a hueco and then overhanging jugs to the chains. If you don’t love this route you don’t love climbing.
  2. Mona Lisa Overdrive
    I don’t think this is considered a “classic” but I felt in love with it the first time I climbed it. It starts with a boulder problem on small pocket holds with a very distinct sequence, then goes into a hueco rest (I love sit down rests). You can stem out of the hueco, then it’s juggy climbing all the way to the top. It doesn’t hurt that it’s in the middle of the sun soaked golden wall known as Solar Collector.
  3. Heresy (still a project for me)The only non-Red River Gorge route on the list. It’s the hardest grade I’ve led, with a slabby sloper crux that’s well protected that you can fling yourself up it. Then it goes into a horizontal roof with holds so large you can wedge your leg inside of them.
  4. Bongo (trad)
    I don’t lead much trad, but this 5.6 was just fun. It was my first trad onsight, with lots of jugs, some crack climbing and a hollow drum-like “bongo” that gives the route it’s name.
  5. Yellow Brick Road
    I love slab climbing. I also hate slab leading because it’s terrifying. When you climb vertical or overhanging routes, falling is fun. You fall into open air without any consequences. Slab is different. When you fall, because it’s less than vertical, your chances of slamming into the wall is much higher. Yellow Brick Road is a route that I walked by and thought “I need to climb that.”  I even voluntarily hung the draws, then bolt to bolted the nerve wracking line. It included the most nerve-wrecking clip of my life. The first time on this route, I cheated my way through the crux. Next time I went back, hung the draws and did the climb beautifully. 

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Half-Remembered Reads

And I’m back with more half-remembered reviews and general impressions of books. Just what you always wanted, right?

Blue Blood Series - 3ish stars
This is not my typical type of book. I’m not into vampires or the problems of pretty little rich girls.  So why am I reading this series? Honestly, I like the audio-book narrator and my library has the whole series on digital download. Oddly, despite seeing the flaws, I thoroughly enjoy listening to these books and went through the series pretty quickly. The premise is creative, vampires as fallen angels, but I struggled with the fact for the most part there didn’t seem to be anything remotely angelic about the characters. Still, it’s a fun series especially on audiobook.

Library of Souls - 2 stars
I really liked the first book about the Peculiar children. It was weird and quirky, trying a little bit too hard but earnest and enjoyable. The second one I liked a little less.  This third one just began to annoy me. The love-story grated on me, I’m just over the Jacob/Emma relationship and the angst over whether they’re staying together or not. The characters feel annoyingly thin, despite the fact this is the 3rd book, they don’t feel fully fleshed out. This is a series that wore out it’s welcome for me.

Rebel of the Sands - 4 stars

I absolutely love fantasy that’s set in the Middle East. I’ve read enough stories with your typical faeries and creatures that it’s always nice to step into a different setting with a different mythology.  I’m looking forward to the rest of this series.