SUNRISE AT DEATH VALLEY-Photo by Tom Cochrun

Thursday, October 23, 2014

TAKE A HIKE! A FAST CROWD THROWBACK

THE HIKE
   Take a hike with us on the Morgan Pass Trail in the Muir Wilderness above Rock Creek in the Sierra Nevada. At this point we are at about 9,600 feet.
   It's brisk and there is a growing breeze.
   Warnings were posted about an increase in bear activity.
In previous years we've seen only bear scat.

  As we gain altitude we get better looks at peaks in the eastern Sierra.


  Moving into open meadows the wind begins to gust.


   At this point I'm fascinated by the spire like chalk white peaks on this portion of the range.


   Getting closer to 11 thousand feet Lana puts on gloves, the temperature dips and we see patches of ice on the trail.




 We find a spot that partially blocks the wind so we can take a picnic break.
   Our view is another lake and meadow.
   Down the trail after lunch it's time for a rest. Legs and knees can use a break after a few hours of trail and the stone ledge retains the warmth of the sun.
   When we set out we didn't know we'd need to layer on
vest, over fleece, over shirts, but that's why you fill your packs for any number of eventualities.  One thing you can always count on is the sheer beauty and awesomeness of the mountains.
Photo by Lana
Walking Stick created by Moto Groove
A FAST CROWD THROWBACK
1964 Warren Central High School Track Team.
  Hard as it may be to believe I ran the 100 yard dash, 180 yard low hurdles, a leg on the relay team and was captain of the team. Any guess on who of these lads I am?  My brother John, the high hurdler, is missing from the photo.

  See you down the trail.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

HOW DO YOU BECOME A "MAN"? and HAPPY HOUR IN THE CORRAL

HAPPY HOUR
  Some think of California as LA, Hollywood, SoCal, San Francisco, freeways, beaches, show business and population.
   Many forget California is "the west."  Sure, there are eastern states where they can wear the title of "the west," but none are as western as California. I frequently see cowboys, on horseback, riding the range, tending to cattle. We have friends who are ranchers and a lot of what they do is traditional cowboy work.
    So while happy hour can be a cold beer, glass of wine or cocktail, it can also be this.


     Seeing horses on a mountain side, kicking up dust in the long slant of evening sun, I feel as though I'm in a cowboy movie-in my case it would be Billy Crystal's City Slickers!!!  


HOW TO BE A MAN
     A comment in a program about women in war launched me on a thought trail. No disrespect to that issue.  In fact I encourage viewing of  MAKERS, an excellent series on PBS, but this concept of "being a man" is stuck in my head.
      It was said it used to be the only way a male could prove his manhood was to go to war. If I were an anthropologist I might refute that historical premise. However, in our age, manhood certainly comes in many faces, roles, and iterations.
      A life of labor, providing for a family come to mind. Setting aside individual dreams to assure a quality of life for children is a very manly thing. There are countless journey's to "manhood"-living honorably, true to ideals, teaching, being a cop, staying sober, back breaking labor, medical work, emergency services, mentoring, emigrating and starting over, building, leading a church choir, driving a cab, being a lineman, editing a newspaper, plumbing, lawyering, running a business, investigating hate groups, challenging bad laws, standing up for the abused or disenfranchised, being a correspondent, philanthropy, creating, and on and on. Women do these things too and making such a point should serve to underscore how gender judging ideas like "manhood" or "womanhood" are anachronistic. Maybe it is better to think of our humanity instead.
     There is still combat, danger, crime, evil, hatred and other, perils, disasters and destruction's of life. Men and women will  respond and sometimes in heroic and sacrificial ways. I think a nation is indebted to those who go into harm's way (There is very little that is manly or womanly in the way this nation has historically responded to our service personnel. But that is another discussion. And too medical workers and journalists who endure combat or natural violence, without weapons, are rarely remembered for their service)
     Valor and courage are fine human attributes, but they can also be manifest in hard work, sacrifice, loyalty, reliability, honesty and devotion.
      We've all known good men and good women who have simply been brave in the way they have lived good lives. 
      If we can think of manhood in diverse ways, beyond the context of struggle, then maybe we can start putting down our clubs, spears, guns and bombs.
GOOD BYE TO A GOOD GUY
Courtesy of Mediabistro.com/
    Ben Bradlee was no saint, but he was a helluva of good newspaper man. He spoke his mind, guided the Washington Post to an era of greatness, presided over the courageous Watergate coverage, was friend and confident to Presidents, an advocate of a strong and free press and an entertaining story teller.
      To generations of journalists he was a kind of patron saint, a standard bearer. 
       Ben Bradlee, 93. -30-

      See you down the trail.

Monday, October 20, 2014

FALL'S EYE PLEASURE and GONE GIRL AS A JOKE?

AUTUMN PAINT
  Tis the time of year when the blogosphere fills with fall color. Here's a contribution.
   Mid October in the Sierra Nevada is a treat. Providence provides a majestic palette.



















   Perpetual gratitude to Ruth Armstrong who first alerted us to the wonders of the eastern slope and to Art Edis who suggested a fall color expedition in the June Lake region.
     Color hunters from around the globe share the mountain roads, lakesides and vistas in a joyful and hushed reverence. 
GONE GIRL
a divergent view
   The David Fincher film based on Gillian Flynn's well read book and powerfully written screen play is getting a lot of buzz. Fincher is a superb director and superb too are actors Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike and Kim Dickens. Pike's role is award nomination worthy. Neil Patrick Harris and Tyler Perry bring a lot in their small but important supporting roles.
   Some reviews have focused on the tight intrigue and mystery while others have plumbed the portrayal of marriage, manipulative madness, deceit and how truth can be quite a relative thing.  Fincher does all of that while moving a compelling story line ahead.  All of this is good.  Some of this is serious.  The brutality and deceit are troubling.  Still I left the theatre thinking what a clever joke it had been. I don't know if that is because of Flynn's writing or Fincher's directing or my sense of things after a life in journalism.
    Gone Girl was entertaining, with an emotional ride, but in the end was a kind of satire.  Look at how silly the media, especially cable news, and stories that spark feeding frenzy mobs really are. What does it say about the media and those who consume this stuff?  Look at how mercurial are fame and reputation.  Look at how vulnerable and relative "truth" is.  Look how a clever and deceptive mind can lead police, justice and media astray. Look at what happens in relationships.  Look what is says about honesty in being who you are.  Yep, Gone Girl does all of that and I think Fincher and company did it all in such a way that at the end we really need to chuckle and perhaps shake our heads. 
     I suspect most viewers wonder what happens next. You may have your own theory. The audience at our viewing left with a range of reaction and vocally so, which I understand happens with this film. Intense, even searching drama it was, but I wonder how many may see the humor in it all?

     See you down the trail
    

Monday, October 13, 2014

CONNECTIVITY AND LIFE INTERNETTED

LIVING BENEATH THE MOON
    Shooting the moon, the recent blood moon, gave me a chance to tweak around with a new camera.
WEBS
  Spider webs are forever fascinating.



THE HUMAN WEB
NEW CONNECTIVITY'S
    It would have been nice to know this woman's father.
   Jim Hayes was a beloved journalism professor who mentored an impressive retinue of high calibre users of words.
    Dayle Hayes paraphrased the Norman Maclean novel A River Runs Through It in remembering her father when she said, "There is no clear line between religion and words." She said in her father's life words were religion.
    Dayle opened ADVANCING INTEGRITY IN JOURNALISM AND COMMUNICATION-JIM HAYES SYMPOSIUM at Cal Poly.  The impressive  presentations that followed underscored the legacy her father seeded in practitioners as well as the confounding issues that challenge 21st Century journalism and communication.
     Presenters included Peter King Director Public Affairs, University of California and former LA Times reporter, editor and columnist.  David Kerley ABC News Correspondent, Judy Muller professor at USC's Annenberg School for Communications and Journalism, NPR Commentator and former ABC Correspondent, Robert Logan of the US National Library of Medicine at the National Institutes of Health, Kevin Riggs former television newsman and now a senior vice president of Randle Communications, Patrick Linn professor of Philosophy and Director of the Ethics + Emerging Sciences group, an author and expert on artificial intelligence and robotics, and Karen Miller Pensiero editor of Newsroom Standards for the Wall Street Journal.
     Pensiero's Keynote affirmed the need for ethics and core values even as journalism and communication morph into new methods of gathering and distribution. She eschewed the idea that social media is self correcting. 
     Pensiero observed that news group "brands" must now co-exist with  the "franchises" of some of their own employees. She was responding to my inquiry about Ezra Klein leaving the Washington Post for Vox Media, the Wall Street Journal's own Walter Mossberg departing for his new Re/Code and Nate Silver's taking of his 535 franchise from the New York Times to ESPN and his own private label. "I see no end to it," she said noting it is part of the new world.
    Judy Muller played the iconic clip of Walter Cronkite choking back a tear as he announced the death of President Kennedy. She said that was "emotionalism" in journalism in a 1960's world. By contrast she played clips of Anderson Cooper  angrily going off on Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu for political back patting as victims of a Gulf storm continued to suffer and as bodies laid on streets. She played a clip of CNN's Jake Tapper being emotional as he covered disorder in Ferguson. I asked her to reflect on the differences of Tapper's emotionalism to Tom Pettit's coverage and that of others during the 1960's civil rights disturbances. She said she thought if they could have used the same live technology they too may have been more emotional.  
      It's my view the jury is out on that assessment. Everything was different then and those who practiced journalism saw themselves as distillers and handlers of information. Our emotions were not to be a part of the coverage and in fact the entire process was a series of filters.But Muller is correct, emotionalism and commentary are a part of the current delivery, like it or not. Her suggestion for Media Literacy training for students is a wise idea.
 
     In this time of Ebola and media inspired fear, Logan's presentation dealing with weighing best evidence and providing contextualization was a healthy antidote.
     Based on the accounts given by presenters, Hayes must have been an extraordinary "teacher/editor." The audience included alumna and alumni, professionals, a few retirees and students, though the information has value to all who use any form of media.
      Ethicist and Artificial Intelligence expert Dr. Patrick Lin, blew a few minds when he put three news briefs on the screen. Each had been written by a robot. It was part of his discussion of Algorithmic Curation, the affect of data mining and organization that you may see in your own life. Here's what I mean. Research a new camera for example and suddenly web sites you visit feature camera ads. Lin said present generation algorithmic writing programs are very effective at correlation but bad at determining causation. Correlation is not causation. An example he cited makes the point. Traffic fatalities decrease when there is an increase in the import of lemons from Mexico. Artificial Intelligence can spot a correlation, but can't make the judgement there is no connection.  
      Lin made good points in noting that values change with time and we seem to be witnessing what he called a "democratization of news." He concluded that ethics is a competitive advantage.
       With more demands placed on journalists-the need to tweet, blog, shoot video, edit and report at the same time, with demanding editors and a hungry news machine to feed-it is reassuring to know the values taught by a fellow who must have been a helluva good professor have been enshrined in what I hope will be an annual symposium on integrity. The world needs it.


       See you down the trail