Friday Randomness, Vol. 108

Bears don't care about your problems Brendan Leonard

A big box of books arrived this past weekend from Darryl and The Mountaineers. I confessed a couple weeks ago to having a hard time accepting gifts. One of the books I had chosen was Brendan Leonard’s ‘Bears Don’t Care About Your Problems‘. With leadership, there are always plenty of serious things to talk about. But I didn’t want these random thoughts to always be serious. It’s also important to have fun. Since it’s the day after Thanksgiving and I hope you’re doing something not serious, I thought I’d share some funny stuff from that book.

Full transparency: just flipping through it and reading an essay here and there had me literally rolling on the floor. Not that you have to or will find any of these as funny, but you might. Just in case, I’d suggest finding a big open space before you continue reading.

Ten Basic Rules For Adventure
1. Don’t die. Prior to his attempt on K2 in 1995, American climber Rob Slater famously told a climbing magazine, “Summit or die, either way I win.” He summited, but died on the descent. To each their own, but if I were to adapt Slater’s quote to reflect my own ideals, it would be something more like: “Summit or live another several years to eat deep-dish pizza, either way I win.”

Ten Ways To Talk About Powder Skiing
5. Exaggerate. “It was so good, my friend Eric literally drowned in pow. I mean, he died. On the lift line under Chair 8. I could have gone back up to look for him, but sorry, that’s just how seriously I take powder days. Sorry, Eric.”

Twelve Ways To Make Friends At The Campground
10. Play some music on a stereo. You like your music, so everyone else probably will, too.

How To Pack For A Big Trip
Don’t worry about food. Another cool thing to do last-minute is remember that oh, yeah, you might need some food for the trip. Head to the grocery store at 11 p.m. and just grab a bunch of random stuff. Better yet, pack little or no food, and don’t tell anyone until you’re out in the wilderness somewhere, preferably dinnertime. When everyone else is starting to cook, say something like, “So, could I eat some of your food? I was going to bring some, but I just ran out of time.”

And last but not least, also along the lines of food…

Less Serious Accidents in North American Mountaineering 2017
Wyoming Wind River Range, Cirque of the Towers
On September 5, two climbers (male, 26 years old; female, 26 years old) left their tent to begin preparing for a climb of the Northeast Face when they discovered one of them had accidentally purchased and brought decaffeinated coffee. The climbing trip was aborted.
Analysis: Proper assessment of conditions can be the difference between life and death on a climb, and these climbers showed appropriate prudence in their situation. Although a decaffeinated ascent of one of the Fifty Classic Climbs would have been quite savage.

There are plenty of times I’m grateful for humor. If you found any of those amusing or that you did indeed roll on the floor laughing, I’d encourage you to get or gift a copy to someone if you or they may also be grateful for humor. Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday Randomness, Vol. 107

Dr. Anthony Fauci

During that speech, I’m saying something and you have the activists clap. Then I say something and the scientists clap. The beauty of it is that… at the end of it, everybody was clapping.

K and I recently watched the documentary ‘Fauci’ on Disney+. He was talking about a speech he gave to a group of Act Up activists and scientists during the AIDS epidemic. The similarities between that and the COVID pandemic are striking. So are the differences.

What mattered then, what will always matter, was how Anthony Fauci made the difficult choice to engage with his critics. The ones who disliked him, those who thought he wasn’t working fast enough to find a cure. They were blown away when he came to them. When he asked to hear about their experiences, their ideas. Humble and vulnerable, and holy shit I can’t imagine how unbelievably hard.

As the documentary pieces together his work then and his work now, without giving anything away in case you haven’t seen it, Dr. Fauci talks about the $15 billion for which he advocated to globally fight AIDS. How, when President Bush announced the news to Congress, both Republicans and Democrats crowded in the House chamber applauded. Just like the activists and the scientists, for years at bitter odds.

Through his words and his actions, Dr. Fauci brought people together. He, as the recent Harvard Business Review article about crisis explained, ‘reminded people who disagreed with one another that they needn’t be perpetual enemies.’ That’s leadership.

Friday Randomness, Vol. 106

Camp in the North Cascades

Last week, Darryl from Mountaineers Books reached out to me. They wanted to repurchase the rights to an image I shot years ago in the North Cascades. In his offer, he acknowledged they wanted to fairly compensate me despite their budget being limited. In addition to a check, ‘I’d like to offer a restock of your outdoor library!’ he wrote me. ‘Please pick out some books as gifts or for your bookcase. Happy to send 15-20 titles.’

We’re big book fans in this house. Specifically, outdoor books like what The Mountaineers happens to publish. It was a gracious offer and easy to pick out what turned out to be nineteen books. When I sent Darryl our picks, I offered to merely consider it a wish list. If any titles were too expensive or low on stock I mentioned to not worry about including them. I felt bad taking him up on his offer.

But why? I’ve brought up before how a lot of us––myself included––have a hard time accepting a compliment. Just as hard for me I guess is accepting a gift, even when like this it borders on compensation.

Coincidentally, I’m listening to Monty Moran’s book Love is Free, Guac is Extra. It’s his story about the time he spent as CEO of Chipotle and how he led the culture with, as the book’s name suggests, love and vulnerability. In the second chapter he writes:

‘It’s a universal truth that giving is more gratifying than receiving.’

He goes on to tell the story of how in Buddhism there’s a notion that the one who begs for food or money is doing a favor to the one from whom they beg. In doing so, they’re allowing that person to give and thus to improve their karma. 

Darryl wanted to give us the gift of books, and it must have felt good for him. I need to stop feeling bad accepting someone’s gift when it’s offered. Like a lot of things, however, easier said than done. This will be a good reminder.

Friday Randomness, Vol. 105

Camp in Utah

This one may seem obvious or elementary. Like I recently mentioned, it’s mostly for me. Maybe it’ll be helpful though for you, too.

We were traveling to Colorado and our van’s water supply ran out on day 3. Campgrounds were still open, but all so far had turned off their water supplies. Refilling had been tricky. Planning to pass through Moab on our way into southwestern Colorado, we stopped at the rest area where I-70 meets US-191 threading south through the desert. K noticed the maintenance door was open and saw what looked like the guy who had the key milling about.

‘Why don’t you ask him if we can fill up our water?’ she asked. Sensing my hesitation in not wanting to bother him, she reminded me: ‘The answer is always no until you ask.’ Right.

So I grabbed our water jug from under the van’s sink and asked him. He said yes. In fact, he seemed excited to be approached by someone and we ended up chatting for a bit before I ducked into the little room with a spigot.

Water refilled: check. Reminder it never hurts to ask for help: check, check.