SOF – Bill McKibben

Yesterday I caught this show on the radio. It’s an interview with Bill McKibben. He’s an author, activist and most recently the head of This is an agency that is “dedicated to building a movement to unite the world around solutions to the climate crisis–the solutions that science and justice demand.” The 350 refers to aiming for atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations of 350ppm.

The radio piece is not heavily focused on faith but touches on the spirit of environmental activism as it relates to humility, and what realignments the movement and society could benefit from. I am probably messing that up so listen for yourself.


It’s a important characteristic to have and one that comes to mind when you think of our lives on the scale of earth and climate. I think it’s a good reason to advocate for changes, or rather less (climate) change. In the same vein, this frightening and prophetic advertisement from the ironically named Humble Oil company found in a 1962 issue Life magazine made me think of it.

COP15 – Google Earth Outreach Showcase

Yesterday the COP15 talks were kicked off in Copenhagen, Denmark. I took a break from writing papers to follow some links on some of the many sites devoting some time and space to this huge conference. [banner from Grist]

One of the coolest things that I found was a series of tours, demonstrated on Youtube here. It’s also a bit funny because you can hear about climate change from Ted Danson. From there you can download some of the demonstrations you watch on Youtube for real interaction within Google Earth, including full IPCC climate scenarios. It’s so cool because it easily combines modeled changes with satellite data that portrays information about land use, population and land cover. You can add and remove layers and scroll through time too (not sure how much satellite imagery will change with time). It also puts you directly in contact (with hyperlinks) with organizations and documents that back up or expand on the data. This eventually took me to their Earth Outreach page. They have a number of tools available to help non-profits visualize problems and projects using Google Earth. Below is one that I found pretty cool.

Now I’m thinking about how I can use this in my class next semester. More to follow on this and COP15.

When Pigs Flu

Anyone else on edge about this Swine Flu thing? I dare say that nowhere does such an event carry more gravitas than in the home of CDC epidemiologist in respiratory viruses. Lauren was telling me about these cases last week and when she noticed that I was only half paying attention she asked “is this sinking in?”. I guess it hadn’t until I put down what I was doing and imagined The Stand. Is anyone out there stockpiling food and water yet?

I did go back to Google Trends, the service that everyone was heralding back in November. Turns out we may still need public health surviellance. Google Trends barely showed a bleep on swine flu until this weekend. What’s more it shows nothing about the historic CDC swine flu ‘mishap’ in 1976 that pushed swine flu vaccine on the public with claims of a coming plague. The story needs to be retold today. Goolge trends did pop up with this story about the Chinese trying to get out a swine flu vaccine three and half years ago.

Regardless of investigating the history the event is a bit sureal. It’s interesting to think about the prospects of a global event that instantly puts everyone on edge, redefines stereotypes, and changes your routines (especially when you hear someone cough on the bus). I’ve provided links on the right-side banner and at the bottom of this post to info from the CDC.

CDC info on swine flu

Radiohead Videos

While putting up all these posts about the West Coast Trail trip I have had a lot of ideas for new posts. Today I saw the winners for the Radiohead Animated video contest where they asked fans to create videos for tracks on their new album. The band choose four as winners. Here’s my fave.

Here are the others:

15 Step
Entertaining Japanese-style cartoon. A boy runs and goes through psychadelic journey, the end is full of storyboards.

This one is eerie and awesome. Mesh of real footage of lonely, beautiful and ordinary places combined with some computer animation.

Weird Fishes / Arpeggi
The beginning of this is really cool and I think the artist paid attention to what Radiohead was thinking with this song but it relies heavily on storyboards. Which, although well done, pale next to the live footage and puppets in the opening.

Until Pitchfork weighs in on them, this is the best review you have. Let me know what you think of them.

Day 7 – Crawl to the Finish

Log Jam Creek to Gordon River (5km)

Nothing was on our minds waking up this morning except finishing the hike and finishing it with everyone in one piece. We got up early, packed up camp faster than we’d ever done before and were on our way. We spoke the night before about sticking together and seeing this thing through. So it was that Rob would take the lead and set the pace.

Not too much happened on this day except that we finished. At some point in the trail you realize that everyone you pass is fresh, clean and just off the boat. Also, you can hear the ferry buzzing people to the trailhead and you begin to get excited (read impatient). At one such place in the trail we were all standing behind Rob as he calculated how to scale a fallen tree. A section of the tree had been cut out to make a step and it was about 3 feet (~1m) off the ground. He had resisted help and kept his wrists securely wrangled to his poles for 7 (or 8) days, but at this point, with a palpable urgency of 5 guys behind him, it looked as if all that would change. He began to remove his wrists from the poles’ loops and 5 men simultaneously had a common realization and a new sense of hope (like watching a Barack Obama speech). Our spirits were crushed as Rob, instead of taking Matt’s steady shoulder to aid his assent, took his poles, threw them past the opening in the tree and began to climb through on his own.

I have to admit, however, that seeing Rob finish this thing was something I thought about a lot and one of the best parts of the trip. We allowed him to lead all the way to the last kilometer, there we all took a picture with the small yellow sign that said 75km. Then, the magnetism to the finish too great to resist, we all fled for the ferry crossing, leaving Rob in our dust. He showed up a few minutes later with his poles drawn like two six-shooters. He was owed manhugs from us all and he knew they were coming.

Next began a whole other journey in itself. It was so hard to figure out who was going to Victoria General to be with Duke and who was going to head back to Seattle that I can not even remember what we did. I think Rob and Rick went to the hospital and then the four young guys also made a stop to say hi and pick up Rick. Duke was in good spirits and still telling his crushed aspirin story to anyone who would listen. We left him there with Rob while we waited, fasting and sponge-bathed, ready for surgery. He’d wait there prepped for over 24 hours more, and in the same time Rob ran around between the US Canada border like a chicken with his head cut off trying to get his other car up to Victoria (still, no one understands why). We arrived in Seattle and dropped off Rick, sometime around midnight (Thursday night/Friday morning), but determined to get some beer before passing out. Duke would finally make it back to Seattle on Saturday and we went over to visit on Sunday. He was bumped in the queue for surgery 5 times and finally gave up, came back to Seattle and had an appointment with his doctor for Tuesday. He had talked to George who had somehow made his way back to New Mexico since we last saw him.

Skip to the present. This weekend Matt is again out in Seattle with Duke, Rob, Graham and Josh for Graham and Liz’s wedding. Best wishes to all of you guys and I hope to get back out there soon. It was the trip of a lifetime… until the next trip.

Day 6 – Just a Perfect Day

Camper Bay to Logjam Creek (8km)

We woke up happy to notice the morning absent the sound of water hitting our heads. It was not raining, we’d been able to dry some things out the night before and we even got a fire going in the morning to try and dry some more. The discussion about whether to push to the finish or go our own pace continued but now without words. We weren’t going to get the early start that might have allowed us to finish by going our own pace and, in fact, there would still shelter to break down at 8:30. This is what Josh called the work of a subtle saboteur. Regardless, we started the day with a cable car and then headed into the forest for more of the rugged, boggy terrain that we had seen the day before.

I think we were all happy to see that it was noticeably more dry and easier than yesterday. Nonetheless, the up and down over uneven roots and fallen trees made you pay attention to every step. Rob was reliant on his poles and defiant to accept any help with the tougher to negotiate spots. He had taken a few spills on Day 5 but kept pushing along. Day 6 would be more of the same for him. After a few km he, Matt and Duke were hiking at the back of the group. The rest of us stopped at a beach access trail to wait for them but were surprised at how long it was taking. It turned out that Rob had taken a fall that put him in touch with a stump and he now had a gash (about 1″ long; 2.54cm) squarely in the middle of his forehead. Matt had a ziplock full of bloody gauze and tissues to prove it. Minor crisis handled.

We skipped the beach access and pushed on. About 300 meters (or maybe 150 yards) down the path we came to the bridge over 150 yard Creek. Matt and I crossed, commenting on the missing boards and single-sided handrail, and were on the other side when we turned around to See Duke face down on the side of the ravine. Rick worked his pack off, we sat him up on the bridge and eventually we tried to see if he could put some weight on his legs. We knew that he had injured himself and thought it could have been serious (after sitting up he briefly blacked out, likely due to the pain). Standing up was not successful and we prepared to sit him down and call for help.

Our cells phones didn’t work and the VHF radio we had could only receive, not send. Mostly we could either get the weather report or listen to fisherman and leisure boaters talk about old Norwegian-made skiffs. Finally a group of Canadians passed with a cell phone that they graciously let us borrow and we reached the rescue service and made them aware of our situation and position. A helicopter would be deployed.

We set up a mini-camp to get Duke’s leg stabilized and on a thermarest and his body warm and fed. We made some hot water and waited for the rescue team to radio us. I have no recollection of time during this. Finally they called to say the helicopter was leaving and heading to beach access B (see map) about 300 meters, or 8 min of normal hiking, back on the trail. We heard the copter within 3 minutes and Matt and I rushed to meet it.

Two rescue workers exited the plane and recognized our excitement at the novelty of this unfortunate event and they put us to work. Matt carried the stretcher into the site and I helped out with rope bags. Shannon (the female rescue worker with whom Duke had spoken two days prior at a lighthouse encounter) got his leg into a vacuum jacket. James (the other rescuer) set up some ropes near the beach. Like most of the beach access points this one had the trail meeting the beach at a cliff of sorts and this one was luckily short at about 30 feet down a ladder. Since you can’t go down a ladder on a stretcher, James would anchor a rope rig around some trees and we would lower the stretcher over the side of the cliff with a couple of us on the ladder guiding the things down with a free hand.

Once we finally got Duke on the stretcher it took all four of the youngsters along with Shannon and James to navigate and maneuver the thing down to beach access B. I would say this took over an hour. Two locations were ravine crossings formed with fallen trees. We tied a rope to the front of the stretcher and a couple of us would pull Duke along the top of the log while the others would position ourselves next to the log, sometimes into the ditch, and guide him across. Once we reached the cliff there was one more small detail to work out: Duke had to stabilized so that as the stretcher became vertical and went down the cliff he would not put weight on the bad leg. Shannon tied some fancy knots and we figured we had it. To test it we tilted the stretcher up and let Duke relieve himself, his body completely strapped to the stretcher. It was like silence of the lambs, minus the muzzle. At about this time the pilot came up to say that the tide was coming in and that he was going to have to move. James pushed for a few more minutes and we successfully got Duke to the helicopter with minutes to spare.

By now Matt, Graham and I had sent Rick and Rob with Josh to start moving toward the next campsite. It was getting late and we had about 4km to go before we could stop. We decided to try for a small campsite off the trail just south of the path to the Trasher Cove Beach campsite. We knew we couldn’t make it to the Cove (1 km for the actual trail) and we didn’t want to add that 1 km onto the next day either so we were shooting for Log Jam Creek. When we caught up to the crew in front we still had over a km to go and it was nearing 8PM if I recall correctly. We also found out that more blood had been shed, as Rick ran his head into a low clearance fallen log. Scalp wounds are known to produce a deceiving amount of blood (I should know), but Dr. Rob patched it up with superglue. We finally pulled into to our site sometime after 9 and quickly set everything up, got water, made dinner and hung the food. Our three tents barely fit in the space. If someone else had already set up shop there we would have been out of luck. We were so close that there was really very little on everyone’s minds except for where Duke was and finishing the trail. We had just finished a day where four of us managed not to get hurt.