13 Apr

United Airlines (United Continental Holdings, Inc.) brutally dragged a Kentucky doctor off of an overbooked flight to make room for some United employees to fly. If you haven’t seen one of the many videos filmed by other passengers on the plane, there are many to choose from here.

What really bothers me is that our corporations are not punished for their misdeeds.  (I still haven’t seen those responsible for the Great Recession even charged with a crime.) United has a relatively small PR problem to deal with.  They will fix it by “reviewing” their procedures, and will refund all of the passengers on that flight.  But it’s not even a half drop of water in the bucket.  Even though this man was assaulted without provocation and a crime was committed, no one will go to jail. No one will be punished.

United has an annual revenue stream of 36 billion dollars.  Refunding passengers and paying off the inevitable lawsuit is nothing to them.  Because the American public has no resolve and no memory, a meaningful boycott won’t happen. This will be a tiny pebble in the road for United.

The United CEO initially justified the airline’s actions, calling the man “disruptive and belligerent” without even knowing the details.  Belligerent is how I would describe United airlines. No other passengers have described the doctor that way.

The entire air-travel industry, along with security theater provided by the morons employed the TSA and Immigration, continues to be entirely dysfunctional. (They don’t hire anyone who can think for themselves.)

I just returned from a long distance train trip where I met an Australian woman who was traveling from New York to L.A. She told a story of how she was detained in a back room upon arriving at a New York airport because of an small issue with her passport.  She was treated like a criminal until the issue with the passport was resolved.

Personally, I haven’t flown in over a decade due to “security theater” asking me to drop my pants at the checkpoint. That was the last straw for me.



Inverted Sky

15 Jan

The title of this blog is the imagined way I’d hike in the sky if everything were upside down, inverted — the sky being the ground.

This morning was one of those days where the light was a little flat (hazy/cloudy sun) on the fresh snow.  It can be really flat when it’s snowing, too. Sometimes when I’m snow-shoeing in flat light I can’t really see the snow.  Instead I see only all white, with no depth. I take a step into the white not knowing where my foot will stop and touch something firm.  There’s something surreal about it, like I’m not walking on the ground.  The inverted sky.


Hazy light of dawn

Hazy light of dawn, Mt. Thorodin in the back ground, the stone ruins of Caribou gold mining town in the foreground.

A lot of snow has fallen since I returned from the deserts of Utah, much more than I’ve ever seen here at this time of year.  But this is what I expect with a warming climate, the heavier snows we would normally get in spring will fall mid-winter when it’s usually just cold and dry.


Which snowdrift should I go to?

Which snowdrift should I go to?

This morning, I endeavored to stay off any trails. When I’m walking on a trail, my mind wanders and contemplates things, often unrelated to the hike.  This is good when trying to make a hefty decision about something. When I’m off-trail, I’m fully focused in the moment, path-finding, choosing where to go, especially in the forest.  It can be exhilarating and gets me out of my head.

I emerged from hiking in a fairly dark forest and into one of my favorite valleys. A lone coyote yipped and howled from the side of the valley, possibly as a simple greeting to me. It surprised me a little because coyotes usually head for lower elevations in the fall (I was above 10,000 feet).  I can’t imagine a coyote hunting for showshoe hares in such deep snow.  There were snowshoe hare tracks all over the place.

Another cool thing were these large feather-like ice crystals growing on the branches of the trees.


The largest ice crystals I've ever seen, especially upper left in the shadow and lower center.  Click for larger.

The largest ice crystals I’ve ever seen, especially upper left in the shadow and lower center. Over an inch long (2-3 cm). Click for larger.

They kind of reminded me of moth wings.


Under the Surface

08 Jan

I have over-committed myself on many fronts. My desire to be helpful gets the best of me. Then I become one of those people I despise, one who doesn’t deliver on promises. People tell me it’s a good thing that business has grown so much. But the downside is not being able to deliver on the promises I make.  It’s much easier to say “no” up front, than to keep saying I haven’t gotten to it yet and to give me a little more time.  This is not a new lesson.  It makes me laugh how I ignore life’s small lessons.

Over the holidays, I went to Utah to visit friends and to do some hiking and photography. The ends of the trip were all about dodging storm systems and semi-trucks. (Actually the semi-trucks were fine; it was the icy roads and idiot drivers of SUVs and pickups.)



A familiar sight travelling I-70 in the winter.

On the way to southern Utah, I stopped at the Crystal Geyser near Green River.

The Crystal Geyser is a cold water geyser with a water temperature around 62º F (17º C). But in the sub-freezing temperature of the winter air, the water steams.

The Crystal Geyser is a cold water geyser with a water temperature around 62º F (17º C). But in the sub-freezing temperature of the winter air, the water steams.

I’ve been to the Crystal Geyser before.  It’s not a natural geyser, as the geysers are in Yellowstone. This one was created accidentally when drilling for oil back in 1936.  It’s nothing but an old rusty pipe sticking out of the ground.


It wasn’t erupting when I stopped by. But this made the photography more interesting because ice had formed from the previous eruption (probably sometime during the night).  One of these days, I’d like to camp at the geyser so I can witness a proper eruption.


Travertine deposits

Travertine deposits


Ice crystals

Ice crystals

The sun in southern Utah was sparse. But again, it provided for more scenic photos.  Actually some of these photos might be from extreme north-western Arizona near the Virgin River and Beaver Dam Wash.


Near the Virgin River Gorge


Side entrance bird's nest in cholla cactus.

Side entrance bird’s nest in cholla cactus.



Joshua tree

It seemed like a pretty short trip, which included going to an art museum featuring artwork about our national parks, visiting a restaurant on a cliff overlooking St. George, and last but not least, hanging out with friends.

It’s time I get back to my commitments. Perhaps my new year’s resolution should be “Just Say No”.  Nah…