In the late 19th century, scores of celebrated, valorous explorers attempted to reach the North Pole. Groups of explorers from the U.S., Europe and Scandinavia invented clever new equipment, raised money, stirred national pride and enthralled the world by attempting to march, sail or sled to the most cold, remote and unseen place on Earth.
But it was a perilous business: Of the 1,000 people who tried to reach the North Pole in the late 1800s, 751 died during their attempt, author Alec Wilkinson tells NPR’s Scott Simon.
One Swedish man named S.A. Andree decided to try to fly above all that. In 1897, Andree and his crew of two — Nils Strindberg and Knut Fraenkel — set out for the North Pole in a hydrogen balloon. The story of their journey and that age of Arctic exploration is told in Wilkinson’s new book, The Ice Balloon.
UPDATE-SATURDAY JAN. 21, 2012–11:00– San Juan Mountains Weather Report–Thursday, January 19, 2012–17:00–
Looks like all the ingredients for a good San Juan storm are coming together today/tonight… Could see up to 2′ of snow above 11,000′ in favored locations… look out!
The strong mountains winds recently forecasted didn’t materialize except at very high elevations above 15,000′ because of a warm/stable air mass the past few days.
The next disturbance heading towards our mountains began moving into Washington/Oregon today. It looks to weaken in it’s approach so we may only see the possibility (30-40 %) of light snow tonight/tomorrow depending on how much Utah steals first.
A promising Pacific trough traveling through the Great Basin should reach the San Juans on Saturday/Saturday night with widespread precipitation above 11,000′. SW flow with the jet overhead should produce good orographic snows but may begin as rain/snow mix in the lower valleys because of warm air temps early but a cold front moving in later Sat. night will help with snow production.
By Sunday afternoon/evening a shortwave ridge will move through Utah into Colorado quickly drying out the remaining moisture and we’ll see rapid clearing from west to east.
Models are not in agreement for the next Pacific trough pushing into the Great Basin. One has snow possibly beginning Monday/Monday evening and the slower model has the storm arriving on Tuesday/Tuesday evening. A third model shows the persistent split flow we’ve seen all winter that could split around the forecast area without any precipitation… Take your choice, uncertainty seems to be the continuum. The NWS “confidence has dropped” on the potential of next week’s storm.
Etta James, one of the great voices of the 20th century who fused R&B with gospel and blues, and scored landmark hits with “At Last,” “Tell Mama” and “All I Could Do Was Cry,” died today from complications related to leukemia. She was 73. James had been battling health problems for many years.
James had an enormously turbulent personal life with numerous periods of drug addiction and poverty, but she channeled all of that heartache into her music. “There’s a lot going on Etta James’ voice,” Bonnie Raitt told Rolling Stone in 2008. “A lot of pain, a lot of life, most of all, a lot of strength. She can be so raucous and down one song, and then break your heart with her subtlety and finesse the next. As raw as Etta is, there’s a great intelligence and wisdom in her singing.”Read more:
Remembering Etta James, Stunning Singer-NPR
The “Matriarch of the Blues” has died. Music legend Etta James died Friday morning at Riverside Community Hospital in California of complications from leukemia. She was 73.
She was born Jamesetta Hawkins in Los Angeles in 1938. Her first manager and promoter cut up Jamesetta’s name and reversed it: Etta James.
Her talent was discovered when she was 14 — the same age her mother was when James was born. Within three years, the foster-home runaway had her first hit, with the girl group The Peaches. Back then, “Roll With Me Henry” was deemed too racy for radio, “roll” being a sexual euphemism.
Etta James was still a minor when she toured with Little Richard. Then, she signed with leading blues label Chess Records and bleached her hair platinum blond.
“What I was doing was trying to be a glamour girl,” she told NPR’s Fresh Air in 1994. “Because I’d been a tomboy, and I wanted to look grown and wanted to wear high-heeled shoes and fishtail gowns and big, long rhinestone earrings.”
In early May of 1971, I was detailed to Silverton by the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research (INSTAAR),University of Colorado with a purchase order and instructions to locate a house of suitable size to base an office and living quarters for an avalanche research project.
That night I stopped at the Grand Imperial to listen in on a busy town of 850 people supported by the employment of two large mines, the Sunnyside and Idarado. I wasn’t long on the bar stool before two fellows got up from a table and sandwiched me, right and left with the admonition from the big one on the right of ”We don’t allow no #$%&*! hippies in here”. Well, I was fresh from the hippie-cowboy wars of Gunnison County, so not too concerned. My hair and beard weren’t really that long and I was a bit older and sober, and after all was still running a bar of my own back in Crested Butte and felt at the time, those attributes along with carefully honed negotiation skills and perhaps friendly allies could save the day. But, the bartender didn’t look too supportive of customer immunity, and for that matter did the rest of the crowded place.
Hmm, this wasn’t looking good, so I stuck out a hand and introduced myself to Clayton Hadden and Marvin Blackmore. That worked for a minute. Then I said I was in town to run the logistics for an avalanche project. Thank goodness, the other guy at the table they’d just left hopped up and said to leave me alone: he’s heard about this deal and I was probably ok.
That was the first of many times Tuffy Foster, Colorado Highway Maintenance Foreman for Red Mountain and Molas Passes, was to contribute to the well being of the San Juan Avalanche Project. Then Marvin bought me the first of many beers we shared over the years.
Compassion is something really worthwhile. It is not just a religious or spiritual subject, not a matter of ideology. It is not a luxury, it is a necessity.
Come, let’s go
till we’re buried.
“To live outside the law, you must be honest.” Bob Dylan
This day at Teahupoo- Aug 27th 2011 during the Billabong Pro waiting period is what many are calling the biggest and gnarliest Teahupoo ever ridden. Chris Bryan was fortunate enough to be there working for Billabong on a day that will go down in the history of big wave surfing. The French Navy labeled this day a double code red prohibiting and threatening to arrest anyone that entered the water.
Kelly Slater described the day by saying “witnessing this was a draining feeling being terrified for other people’s lives all day long, it’s life or death. Letting go of that rope one time can change your life and not many people will ever experience that in their life.”
All images where shot by Chris Bryan using the Phantom HD Gold camera. To see more of Chris’ work check out his website. WWW.CHRISBRYANFILMS.COM
Music: Lower Your Eyelids to Die with the Sun’ by M83.
by Chris Bryan
Our latest storm played out as expected with up to 14″ in various locations. Clear skies and high winds (polar jet) will dominate for the next few days redistributing the new snow, setting on a weak snowpack into fresh slabs waiting for a trigger. Wind averages could be in the 30-40mph range with gusts in the 80′s or more above the trees, so hold onto your caps…
As the polar jet sets up over the Great Basin and aims at western Colorado in zonal flow the temperatures will cool and winds will be high into Thursday. The northern and central Colorado mountains may receive some occasional snow and the San Juans will probably experience an unsettled atmosphere with some clouds, cold temps and winds, but stay dry.
The weather through the weekend will be unsettled and active with a slight chance of snow for our southern mountains Wednesday evening through Sunday/Monday. No real specifics because it’s too far into the future…
late night and early morning low clouds
with a chance of fog
chance of showers into the afternoon
with variable high cloudiness
and gusty winds, gusty winds
at times around the corner of
Sunset and Alvorado
things are tough all over
when the thunder storms start
increasing over the southeast
and south central portions
of my apartment, I get upset
and a line of thunderstorms was
developing in the early morning
ahead of a slow moving coldfront
with tornado watches issued shortly
before noon Sunday, for the areas
including, the western region
of my mental health
and the northern portions of my
ability to deal rationally with my
disconcerted precarious emotional
situation, it’s cold out there
colder than a ticket taker’s smile
at the Ivar Theatre, on a Saturday night
flash flood watches covered the
southern portion of my disposition
there was no severe weather well
into the afternoon, except for a lone gust of
wind in the bedroom
in a high pressure zone, covering the eastern
portion of a small suburban community
with a 103 and millibar high pressure zone
and a weak pressure ridge extending from
my eyes down to my cheeks cause since
you left me baby
and put the vice grips on my mental health
well the extended outlook for an
indefinite period of time until you
come back to me baby is high tonight
low tomorrow, and precipitation is
‘RED MOUNTAIN PASS – CHIEF OURAY HIGHWAY: A History of Forecasting and Mitigation.’-Jerry Roberts-The Avalanche Review
Gary King photo
The Avalanche Review, February & April 2009
It’s anybody’s guess why forecasters do this job. It could be the smell of powder, throwing 50 pound shots from the helicopter, watching hard slab failure release energy over several alpine basins at once, or maybe just the company you keep.
Whatever the reasons, you get hooked on the excitement and the challenges of the job. It requires a lot of field experience (series of non-fatal errors), collection of empirical evidence, listening to your inner voice (intuition), and distilling all of the variables to reduce uncertainties until you can finally make a decision that you can live with. There are many truths to be learned. It’s no big mystery; you pay attention and do your work because you don’t want to be a victim of your own bad planning. It helps to be comfortable in the world of uncertainties.
24 snow/h20 storm snow/h20
MON 5.5″/.4″ 8.5″/.55″
RMP 7″/.7″ (wind effected) 11.5″/1.0″
Molas 6″/.7″ (wind effected) 14″/1.15″
Coal Bank 5″/.45″ 12.5″/1.15″
The radio chattered with the “heads up” signal, and a few seconds later we heard the boom of the gun, and then the eerie sounding whistle of the bullet piercing the air. Then the second report of the charge exploding somewhere up in the cloud obscured ridge. We chatted nonchalantly–all of us had watched expectantly as round after round was lobbed into the paths near town with no result. Surely the first shot wouldn’t do anything here.
And then we saw it: the pristine white snow all the way across the starting zone appeared to be cracking like ice. I lifted my camera to my eye and started pushing the button over and over again as the huge slabs of snow succumbed to gravity and began moving down the mountain, then turning into a great white cloud, and then into a 100-foot high locomotive. It kept gathering speed, kept growing. When it was about halfway to the creek, I looked up from the camera’s viewfinder. The Prescott students are already in retreat, on the highway and moving tentatively toward the elusive safe zone. Only Roberts and I were still perched on the snow bank and he had a strange, elated, frightened look on his face.
I waited for him to say something, for him to utter some transcendent haiku about the beauty and the power of snow, about staring death in the face and laughing, about pisco, Chilean cantinas, orange welfare rigs, or that final , poignant look on an angry, disappointed lover’s face as she walks out the door for the last time.
But the haiku never came. The Zen in Jerry Roberts had vanished. All that remained was the redneck.
“RUN LIKE BASTARDS” he yelled, then jumped off the snow bank and sprinted up the road.
‘Snow & Avalanche Forecasting Education-Prescott College’–Jerry Roberts–The Avalanche Review, December 2002
The idea was birthed over a bottle of good pisco on a stormy January night in the early 80′s in Chattanooga, Colorado, just below Red Mountain Pass. Tim Lane was persuading David Lovejoy, jefe of Outdoor Education at Prescott College that he needed to give his winter mountaineering students, who were camped just outside the cabin door, something more substantial than a pinche three day search and rescue course.
The pisco was about finished when Lovejoy agreed that the college might be interested in a more structured avalanche program and if we were interested in developing one, a formal proposal should be sent. Surprisingly the proposal got written on the old typer and was shipped off into the Arizona desert. Over 25 years later the program is still alive…. ….
January 14, 2012
We’re used to thinking of “obesity” in physical terms — unhealthful weight that clogs our arteries and strains our hearts. But there’s also an obesity of information that clogs our eyes and our minds and our inboxes: unhealthful information deep-fried in our own preconceptions.
In The Information Diet, open-source-Internet activist Clay Johnson makes the case for more “conscious consumption” of news and information. Johnson, the founder of Blue State Digital, which provided the online strategy for the 2008 Obama campaign, talks with NPR’s Scott Simon about ways to slim and stretch our minds.
The Daily Show on the Coming South Carolina ‘Bloodbath’ POSTED: January 12, 12:14 PM ET | By Lauren Lipsay LAST NIGHT’S DAILY SHOW…. WATCH!!!
The Republican candidates seeking the presidential nomination have cleared out of Iowa and New Hampshire, where the first two primaries were conducted in a largely gentlemanly fashion, and are headed for the next contest in South Carolina, which by contrast – say the pundits – promises to be “a bloodbath.” But how different can it really be? Jon Stewart wondered on last night’s Daily Show. To find out, Stewart sent his news team south. Watch Aasif Mandvi, Jason Jones and newbie Jessica Williams as they brave the coming storm.
Read more: http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/blogs/national-affairs/the-daily-show-on-the-coming-south-carolina-bloodbath-20120112#ixzz1jNsqfmKX
A change in the weather looks immanent. Two vigorous storm systems will be approaching Colorado on Sunday with clouds increasing from the SW throughout the day. The persistent high pressure dome begins to break down as the subtropical jet pushes a closed low off the California coast which opens into a short wave trough into western Colorado. The strong storm system that recently pounded Alaska with over 18′ of snow in places will drop down from the BC coast with polar jet support. Where these storms hit is up for debate. One model has the best jet support over the front range and another model has the western slope as the receipent. Guess we’ll see.
Unless this scenario falls apart which is always possible, the San Juan Mountains should see snow beginning late Sunday night as the first disturbance pushes into the western mountains enhanced by a cold front from the NW. 6-8″ of snow is possible by Monday evening but those #’s can & will change depending on storm dynamics and jet location in the storms.
Looks like a short break with clearing on Tuesday then another storm system approaches from the Pacific NW and will favor the northern mountains through Thursday but once zonal flow sets up, the favored west facing slopes of the San Juans could see some accumulations. But that is much too far into the future to even think about.
We’ve been through this with him before, so talk from Comedy Central’s Stephen Colbert about running for president needs to be viewed with suspicion.
But he’s at it again and promises a “major announcement” on his show tonight (it airs at 11:30 p.m. ET).
And Colbert is, as Eyder has reported, showing up in the polls in his home state of South Carolina — where Republicans hold their primary on Jan. 21. So, who knows?
For much more about the 2012 presidential race, check out It’s All Politics.
Sunday January 8th
Carolyn Wonderland (center) learned guitar after getting thrown out of school at 17.
Austin musician Carolyn Wonderland kicks off her new album, Peace Meal, with “What Good Can Drinkin’ Do,” an old Janis Joplin tune. You’d be excused if you thought you were listening to Joplin herself.
“You know, it’s a funny thing growing up in Texas: If you’re a girl, you pretty much learn that you sing Janis songs to yourself in private,” Wonderland says. “You don’t do it in public. If it’s not against the law, I’m not sure why.”
Wonderland tells NPR’s Rachel Martin that people think you have to sing Joplin in private because nobody can do it any better.
Gabby Pahinui (center), playing in his family’s backyard with (from left to right) Leland “Atta” Isaacs, Philip Pahinui, Cyril Pahinui and Martin Pahinui. This photo is in the album insert for the 1972′s Gabby.
I first heard Gabby when he played on a Ry Cooder album from 1976, Chicken Skin Music and then saw them play together at a small club in Berkeley with one of his son’s and another great slack key guitarist, Atta Isaacs. What a show… my listening ear definitely changed because of these guys.. JR
As the Oscar race heats up, one contender has already won over fans in Hawaii, where the movie was filmed. And not just for its story of a family grappling with death and infidelity — but also for its soundtrack. The Descendants has no orchestral score. Instead, director Alexander Payne chose to fill his movie exclusively with music by Hawaii artists — much of it from existing recordings.
Payne didn’t know much about the music when he started the project. Then he discovered one of the giants of Hawaiian music, Gabby Pahinui.
“And when I started listening to Gabby, I just fell in love,” Payne says. “So much so that I considered for awhile trying to score the whole film with his music. And I wound up not doing that because there are so many other Hawaiian artists to show and discover. But his remains the anchoring voice in the film.”
Pahinui is known as the “Father of Modern Slack Key Guitar.” In Hawaii, that style is called Ki`ho`alu, which means “loosen the key,” which refers to its open tunings.
Pahinui grew up poor in Honolulu. His first instrument was bass, and he taught himself to play guitar listening to jazz on the radio. The first guitarist to really catch his ear, according to the bio on his website, was the pioneer of electric jazz guitar, Charlie Christian.