Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Different Days

It used to be that wild animals surrounded humanity. Of course, today humanity surrounds animals, as when you see a polar bear trapped in a zoo...Picture above is my copy of a medieval depiction of a wolf attack. This poor man is in big trouble! Although there aren't many instances of wolves killing humans in the Americas (actually, 19th-century hunters pretty much exterminated wolves in the lower 48, which kinda turns the tables), in post-plague medieval Europe this might have been a pretty genuine worry.
By the way, my Aussie buddies, Chris and Clark, are back in action up in Canada; have a look! Picture below is a recent image of Chris hauling his "PAC" expedition cart. As the tundra melts over the next 100 days, the big kevlar wheels will bouy the guys across hundreds of miles of soggy, marshy terrain...at least that's the plan :o You never know what's going to happen, and that's more than half the point.

And, finally, a tremendous, spooky, shocking, electrifying piece of music by Modest Mussorgsky (can you ever beat the Russians for drama?) here conducted by Italian Carlo Tenan. Listen to this alone in the dark and if your hair doesn't stand on end...well, I can't help you!

Pictures at an Exhibition; just over four minutes of the whole symphony.

Monday, May 19, 2008


On absence, on ghosts, by W.S. Merwin:

Your absence has gone through me
Like thread through a needle.
Everything I do is stitched with its color.

On being mistaken for a ghost in Alaska last winter: click here for an updated version of this piece.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Red Laser Spots the Ground

The helmet is just about done; video below. The picture above shows my spotting laser, which will be a useful reference to spot the ground and sea ice as I fly over them in the paraglider. The helmet has to deliver dry air, and exhaust moist breath, lest that breath condense on the visor, freeze, and block my vision. No oils, or other goop I've used, in many Arctic treks, has ever prevented this, so it's critical to make this work. Huffing and puffing in the helmet, I'm still getting some fogging, and that's no good. I have to get it completely sealed up. One breath on the visor, and I'll be blind. Can't fly with the visor up, because windchills will approach -100F. And that'll freeze your eyeballs, matey!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

On a Leaf

Today, 'just" a beautiful poem by Theodore Roethke, quoted in Iron John by Robert Bly. A close study, if short, on the life all around us, but unseen unless you take the time to look...

I study the lives on a leaf: the little
Sleepers, numb nudgers in cold dimensions,
Beetles in caves, newts, stone-deaf fishes,
Lice tethered to long limp subterranean weeds,
Squirmers in bogs,
And bacterial creepers
Wriggling through wounds
Like elvers in ponds,
Their wan mouths kissing the warm sutures,
Cleaning and caressing,
Creeping and healing.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008


Maori (Native New Zealander) Haka (firey-words) dance. Some begin with the words "I Die! I Die! But I Live! I Live!" Powerful stuff.

Click on the video to get the the film-maker's page.