THE MEASURE OF A LIFE WELL LIVED ~ Pocket Worthy … thank you Dick Dorworth

Henry Miller on growing old, the perils of success, and the secret of remaining young at heart.

Brain Pickings

  • Maria Popova

“On how one orients himself to the moment,” 48-year-old Henry Miller (December 26, 1891–June 7, 1980) wrote in reflecting on the art of living in 1939, “depends the failure or fruitfulness of it.” Over the course of his long life, Miller sought ceaselessly to orient himself toward maximal fruitfulness, from his creative disciplineto his philosophical reflections to his exuberant irreverence.

More than three decades later, shortly after his eightieth birthday, Miller wrote a beautiful essay on the subject of aging and the key to living a full life. It was published in 1972 in an ultra-limited-edition chapbook titled On Turning Eighty (public library), alongside two other essays. Only 200 copies were printed, numbered and signed by the author.

Miller begins by considering the true measure of youthfulness:

If at eighty you’re not a cripple or an invalid, if you have your health, if you still enjoy a good walk, a good meal (with all the trimmings), if you can sleep without first taking a pill, if birds and flowers, mountains and sea still inspire you, you are a most fortunate individual and you should get down on your knees morning and night and thank the good Lord for his savin’ and keepin’ power. If you are young in years but already weary in spirit, already on the way to becoming an automaton, it may do you good to say to your boss — under your breath, of course — “Fuck you, Jack! You don’t own me!” … If you can fall in love again and again, if you can forgive your parents for the crime of bringing you into the world, if you are content to get nowhere, just take each day as it comes, if you can forgive as well as forget, if you can keep from growing sour, surly, bitter and cynical, man you’ve got it half licked.

He later adds:

I have very few friends or acquaintances my own age or near it. Though I am usually ill at ease in the company of elderly people I have the greatest respect and admiration for two very old men who seem to remain eternally young and creative. I mean [the Catalan cellist and conductor] Pablo Casals and Pablo Picasso, both over ninety now. Such youthful nonagenarians put the young to shame. Those who are truly decrepit, living corpses, so to speak, are the middle-aged, middleclass men and women who are stuck in their comfortable grooves and imagine that the status quo will last forever or else are so frightened it won’t that they have retreated into their mental bomb shelters to wait it out.

Miller considers the downside of success — not the private kind, per Thoreau’s timeless definition, but the public kind, rooted in the false deity of prestige:

If you have had a successful career, as presumably I have had, the late years may not be the happiest time of your life. (Unless you’ve learned to swallow your own shit.) Success, from the worldly standpoint, is like the plague for a writer who still has something to say. Now, when he should be enjoying a little leisure, he finds himself more occupied than ever. Now he is the victim of his fans and well wishers, of all those who desire to exploit his name. Now it is a different kind of struggle that one has to wage. The problem now is how to keep free, how to do only what one wants to do.

He goes on to reflect on how success affects people’s quintessence:

One thing seems more and more evident to me now — people’s basic character does not change over the years… Far from improving them, success usually accentuates their faults or short-comings. The brilliant guys at school often turn out to be not so brilliant once they are out in the world. If you disliked or despised certain lads in your class you will dislike them even more when they become financiers, statesmen or five star generals. Life forces us to learn a few lessons, but not necessarily to grow.

Somewhat ironically, Anaïs Nin — Miller’s onetime lover and lifelong friend — once argued beautifully for the exact opposite, the notion that our personalities are fundamentally fluid and ever-growing, something that psychologists have since corroborated.

Miller returns to youth and the young as a kind of rearview mirror for one’s own journey:

You observe your children or your children’s children, making the same absurd mistakes, heart-rending mistakes often, which you made at their age. And there is nothing you can say or do to prevent it. It’s by observing the young, indeed, that you eventually understand the sort of idiot you yourself were once upon a time — and perhaps still are.

Like George Eliot, who so poignantly observed the trajectory of happiness over the course of human life, Miller extols the essential psychoemotional supremacy of old age:

At eighty I believe I am a far more cheerful person than I was at twenty or thirty. I most definitely would not want to be a teenager again. Youth may be glorious, but it is also painful to endure…

I was cursed or blessed with a prolonged adolescence; I arrived at some seeming maturity when I was past thirty. It was only in my forties that I really began to feel young. By then I was ready for it. (Picasso once said: “One starts to get young at the age of sixty, and then it’s too late.”) By this time I had lost many illusions, but fortunately not my enthusiasm, nor the joy of living, nor my unquenchable curiosity.

And therein lies Miller’s spiritual center — the life-force that stoked his ageless inner engine:

Perhaps it is curiosity — about anything and everything — that made me the writer I am. It has never left me…

With this attribute goes another which I prize above everything else, and that is the sense of wonder. No matter how restricted my world may become I cannot imagine it leaving me void of wonder. In a sense I suppose it might be called my religion. I do not ask how it came about, this creation in which we swim, but only to enjoy and appreciate it.

Two years later, Miller would come to articulate this with even more exquisite clarity in contemplating the meaning of life, but here he contradicts Henry James’s assertion that seriousness preserves one’s youth and turns to his other saving grace — the capacity for light-heartedness as an antidote to life’s often stifling solemnity:

Perhaps the most comforting thing about growing old gracefully is the increasing ability not to take things too seriously. One of the big differences between a genuine sage and a preacher is gaiety. When the sage laughs it is a belly laugh; when the preacher laughs, which is all too seldom, it is on the wrong side of the face.

Equally important, Miller argues, is countering the human compulsion for self-righteousness. In a sentiment Malcolm Gladwell would come to complement nearly half a century later in advocating for the importance of changing one’s mind regularly, Miller writes:

With advancing age my ideals, which I usually deny possessing, have definitely altered. My ideal is to be free of ideals, free of principles, free of isms and ideologies. I want to take to the ocean of life like a fish takes to the sea…

I no longer try to convert people to my view of things, nor to heal them. Neither do I feel superior because they appear to be lacking in intelligence.

Miller goes on to consider the brute ways in which we often behave out of self-righteousness and deformed idealism:

One can fight evil but against stupidity one is helpless… I have accepted the fact, hard as it may be, that human beings are inclined to behave in ways that would make animals blush. The ironic, the tragic thing is that we often behave in ignoble fashion from what we consider the highest motives. The animal makes no excuse for killing his prey; the human animal, on the other hand, can invoke God’s blessing when massacring his fellow men. He forgets that God is not on his side but at his side.

But despite observing these lamentable human tendencies, Miller remains an optimist at heart. He concludes by returning to the vital merriment at the root of his life-force:

My motto has always been: “Always merry and bright.” Perhaps that is why I never tire of quoting Rabelais: “For all your ills I give you laughter.” As I look back on my life, which has been full of tragic moments, I see it more as a comedy than a tragedy. One of those comedies in which while laughing your guts out you feel your inner heart breaking. What better comedy could there be? The man who takes himself seriously is doomed…

There is nothing wrong with life itself. It is the ocean in which we swim and we either adapt to it or sink to the bottom. But it is in our power as human beings not to pollute the waters of life, not to destroy the spirit which animates us. 

The most difficult thing for a creative individual is to refrain from the effort to make the world to his liking and to accept his fellow man for what he is, whether good, bad or indifferent.

The entire On Turning Eighty chapbook, which includes two other essays, is a sublime read. Complement it with Miller on writingaltruismthe meaning of lifewhat creative death means, and his 11 commandments of writing



Terry Tempest Williams, an author and environmental activist, on bird song, Keith Jarrett and slowing down.

By Corinna da Fonseca-Wollheim

March 31, 2021

For a series of conversations about music with nonmusicians, I am swapping songs: exchanging pieces with my interlocutors to spark ideas about how their areas of expertise might relate to organized sound.

Terry Tempest Williams is an author and environmental activist whose work celebrates the red-rock deserts of Utah, where she calls home. Her most recent book, “Erosion: Essays of Undoing,”describes the personal and political repercussions of the depredation of public lands.

For our chat, I chose the “Abyss of the Birds” section from Olivier Messiaen’s “Quartet for the End of Time.” She picked “First (Solo Voice)” from Keith Jarrett’s “Invocations.” These are edited excerpts from the interview.

In your book “When Women Were Birds,” you describe childhood memories of your grandmother creating candlelit listening parties, where she would play records for you and your brother. They included classical music, but also field recordings of bird song.

That’s why I picked the clarinet solo from Messiaen’s “Quartet for the End of Time,” first performed in a German prisoner-of-war camp in 1941; it has stretches of desolate, sustained long notes alongside transcriptions of bird song.

I hear it as breath. I knew the story before I knew the music, and I was struck by how, in the presence of war, you could have two minds: one watching out for the enemy and one listening for the call of a blackbird or a mockingbird. And when I first heard it, I was just devastated by the beauty.

That first note appears to come out of nowhere and then builds through the power of one breath. Especially now, in the time of coronavirus, as a country we can’t breathe. We can’t breathe because of the virus. We can’t breathe because of politics, because of the Black and brown bodies that are being killed on the streets. And here, there is that one opening breath, and at the beginning, it feels like melancholy, it feels like a lament. But then as it progresses, there is that building of the silence to voice that becomes a lighter voice, the voice of birds, a fluttering and flourishing.

The clarinet sets vibrations in motion so subtly that by the time we notice them as sound, they’ve already wormed their way into us.

It also felt like light. I had heard that the piece was created at dawn, so this morning, I took my music outside and sat in the desert. As light spread, against that building of voice, it felt like the music mirrored the dawn itself. And I was absolutely stunned by the birds that were drawn in. The robins were the first ones. At moments, I couldn’t tell: Was that a fluttering from Messiaen or a fluttering from the robins? Then starlings came in, and it was almost like they were trying to copy the music, and then the desert mourning doves came in. And then the larks took over.

Sitting in this grove of junipers, I thought about Messiaen and his musicians creating this music in a time of such confinement — and that is the power of community.

Messiaen was a Catholic who believed in eternity as something both comforting and terrifying. As someone who fights for the preservation of wilderness, to what extent do you also have to think of time outside of how it is measured by humans?

I was a child in 1962, when my grandmother read Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring.” We were in her garden putting seeds in bird feeders. And she said, “Terry, can you imagine a world without bird song?” It was a terrifying thought. Birds allow us to be present in the moment, but they also link me to a time before the human record and to what will be as we live our own apocalypse in terms of climate collapse. So they’re an arrow pointing in both directions.

Messiaen said, “It is in a spirit of no confidence in myself, or I mean in the human race, that I have taken bird songs as a model.” And he goes on to talk about the “sovereign freedom” of birds.

That is a beautiful paradox I hear in his music. Birds are the ultimate symbol of freedom. They are also the symbol of presence. They hold their past, and we pray that they will carry the earth into the future. Here he was a devout Catholic, and yet he sought his spiritual source not from God but from God’s creation.

The classic instrument to represent a bird would be the flute, but here it’s brought down a few octaves. It’s mediated, or translated.

He slows their song down so we can really hear. And birds feel like they are the mediators between us and heaven. I also think that since birds travel within the realm of air, to choose a clarinet, a single reed instrument that requires breath, is such a beautiful manifestation.

I was really touched by the piece you chose. While the Messiaen exists in this pure darkness with no echo coming back, Keith Jarrett’s saxophone solo plays with the acoustics of the German abbey where it was recorded, a man-made space designed for transcendence.

The two pieces feel interlinked. They’re both single-reed, solo voices. One is highly composed, the other born of improvisation. And both of them felt like invocations. With Keith Jarrett’s solo, it was the echo that moved me most. This energetic vibration that I feel especially attuned to now as we are a year into a pandemic that we first thought was a pause and we now know is a place. The echoes we feel in our isolation, our own solo voices.

Jarrett invites us to ask how well can we live with uncertainty. He offers us a path of improvisation, and the echo turns it into a call and response.

At the heart of improvisation is listening. Jarrett is listening to the echoes, to the spaces in between his notes. You can almost hear him wondering: What happens if I push this note through the resonance trail of the last one, like concentric smoke rings? Can I smudge the difference between the note I play in this moment and the residue that’s still lingering from the previous one?

It’s in the listening that you open up creative space. I was astonished by a passage about two minutes and 50 seconds in, where the music builds to this fullness. For a while, I lost all track of time.

That’s where he stays on one note and bends the pitch. It develops these microtonal inflections that no longer belong to Western music. He allows the note to wilt and revive. He seems to be exploring the spaces in between notes.

If someone were to say, “Tell me where you live, what do you experience,” I would point to this piece. It is this spaciousness. It is the echo of wall against wall in the narrow confines of these red-rock canyons.

Both of these pieces are filled with memory. How do we access that? For me the bridge is silence and stillness.

As harrowing and as grief-filled as this pandemic has been, it has brought us to this place of slowing down and listening. And that has been part of the blessing. If we are going to survive, that is what is required.

Adventure Partners complete new project at Amangiri Resort

Great new project officially launched today by Amangiri Resort. Thanks to Dave Carman, Wes Bunch, Jim Nigro, Wryht Short, Jeremy Draper, Christian Seamans and many others for the fine work!

We’re pleased to announce the launch of Amangiri’s Cave Peak Stairway. At 186 feet long, it is the longest via ferrata ladder of its kind in the world. Designed, installed and guided exclusively by Adventure Partners LLC & Adventure Partners Attractions LLC#viaferrataAmangiri

a picture of a mountain


After a surge in backcountry camping last summer, community groups join the Forest Service in designating as many as 211 formal campsites in six drainages that spill into the East River Valley.

Jason Blevins

Apr 2, 2021

Dave Ochs spent some long days last summer working on a new bike trail up the Slate River above Crested Butte. 

The executive director of the Crested Butte Mountain Bike Association was driving down to town one July evening when he counted a train of 20 cars a minute heading up the drainage. 

“All the campsites up there were already taken,” he said. “I was like, ‘Where could all these people be going?’”

Wherever they wanted. The river drainages that spill into the East River Valley above Crested Butte offer some of the most popular dispersed camping escapes in Colorado.

Maybe too popular. 

After a deluge of trailer-hauling, tent-tossing campers last summer, a coalition of locals and forest officials plan to end the free-for-all, camp-anywhere bacchanal. Beginning this spring, the six drainages surrounding Crested Butte will have designated campsites. By as soon as next year, reservations will be required.

“I chalk this up to Colorado’s growing pains,” said Joe Lavorini, the Gunnison County Stewardship Coordinator for the National Forest Foundation. “None of us would really want to go down this route if we didn’t have to, but this is best for the resources and ultimately it’s what’s best for the users as well.”

Forest Service officials and the Crested Butte Conservation Corps saw record-setting numbers of campers last summer in the drainages above Crested Butte. (Courtesy Crested Butte Mountain Bike Association / Crested Butte Conservation Corps)

The new management approach is part of a collaboration between the Forest Service and the Gunnison Valley Sustainable Tourism and Outdoor Recreation Committee. That committee, created by Gunnison County’s commissioners, includes 19 members from the community. 

The STOR Corps, as they call themselves, works to promote sustainable tourism and recreation in the valley and approached the Forest Service with the designated-campsite plan after last summer, when Crested Butte was busy with campers and visitors eager to get outdoors during the pandemic. 

“We decided as a community and as a committee, that it was time to say you just can’t camp anywhere,” said John Norton, the executive director of the valley’s Tourism and Prosperity Partnership. “It’s not an anti-camping sentiment. Everybody here loves to camp and everybody here does camp. It’s just that you can only take so much without hurting the resource. We need to protect the natural resources that make this valley so special and this one one way to do it.”

Forest Service officials are joining the Crested Butte community in designating 211 official campsites in the drainages above Crested Butte as a way to protect natural resources. (Courtesy Crested Butte Mountain Bike Association / Crested Butte Conservation Corps)

Camping exploded in Colorado last summer with record numbers of residents and visitors popping tents and parking trailers in remote corners as a way to get outdoors and distance themselves during the pandemic. In some areas, the deluge overwhelmed both land managers and facilities. 

The South Platte Ranger District in the Pike National Forest last fall converted 340 dispersed campsites into reserved, fee sites after the close-to-Denver forest swarmed with record crowds. The district’s $15-a-night sites have assigned parking spots, pit toilets and fire rings. And they are a sign of the future. 

Reservations are increasingly common in Colorado’s busy high country. Hikers need to book access to Hanging Lake. Camping permits are mandatory around Conundrum Hot Springs. Access to the Maroon Bells outside Aspen starts with a shuttle ticket. Even Vail Resorts required reservations to ride chairlifts this winter. 

This summer the backcountry-protecting Crested Butte Conservation Corps will help the Forest Service install campsites, with posts and numbers to designate each site. They will start up Slate River Road with 43 sites and 48 campsites up Washington Gulch Road and then expand into Kebler Pass, Irwin Lake, Brush Creek, Cement Creek and Gothic Road. By next spring there should be 211 designated camping sites across the valley.  

Norton said if everything works well this summer, campers will be able to book the sites on by next spring. But that would require the campsites to meet a host of infrastructure criteria, like fire rings and toilets, outlined under the Federal Land Recreation Enhancement Act’s rules for establishing fees.

The Crested Butte Conservation Corps is working with the Forest Service to build 211 designated campsites in the six drainages that spill into Crested Butte, ending a long history of dispersed camping in the region that has damaged natural resources. (Courtesy Crested Butte Mountain Bike Association / Crested Butte Conservation Corps)

The Crested Butte Conservation Corps is already building campsites. A crew of 10 STOR Corps workers — paid by a Great Outdoors Colorado grant — will spend the summer helping campers learn the new rules. Tourism officials in the valley will warn visitors to have a back-up plan for camping. And maybe a back-up back-up plan on busy weekends. 

“This is our community being proactive and doing something before the recreation gets out of control,” Lavorini said. “It’s time because we are seeing these areas lose their wild and wilderness characteristics due to overuse.”

The STOR Committee studied camping landscapes around other popular destinations, including Sedona, Prescott and Maricopa County in Arizona.

“We saw that if you don’t have reserved camping, it’s just chaos,” said Ochs, whose mountain bike association formed the Crested Butte Conservation Corps in 2017 as a professional trail and stewardship team focused on protecting the valley’s backcountry. 

By 2022 there will be 211 official campsites in the six drainages that spill into Crested Butte, ending a long history of dispersed camping in the region that has damaged natural resources. (Courtesy Crested Butte Mountain Bike Association / Crested Butte Conservation Corps)

The camping crowds last summer were gasoline on the Crested Butte community’s simmering plan to designate campsites around the valley. Ochs and his corps spent many days talking with campers about proper etiquette, including how to bury poop (deeply!) and where to discard trash (not piled at makeshift campsites and trailheads!).

“Some of them truly just did not know,” Ochs said.  

Ochs and his corps have some concerns about the coming camping season. More people have their toys — rooftop tents, trailers and vans — and are eager for another summer in the woods. He’s joining the Crested Butte community in a chorus of messaging urging visitors to make a plan and have an alternative in mind when that perfect campsite they’ve visited for years is not available. 

He’s urging town leaders to set up a temporary one-night spot in a local parking lot for campers who get denied when they arrive late. 

“People are coming here to camp and ride and … they are going to do it,” Ochs said. “We need to be ready for them and help them.”

Friend and Heli-ski guide to many ~ dies in helicopter accident

Good friend and a gentleman with whom I am particularly connected

he dug my dumb ass out of an avalanche burial with Matt Wylie

on Red Mountain Pass

saved my life

Una gran salud y pisco para ti Greg


Harms on RMP, February 2005, crédito total rŌbert

L-R, Peter Shelton, Greg Harms, rŌbert, Matt Wylie on Red Mountain Pass. crédito total de la foto, Lisa Issenberg

Una Gran Salud Greg

Thanks for the heads up Jerry. 
Tragic and difficult. Like losing a family member. He was a good old bro.
Matt Wylie

Bloody hell!!!!!!
Sending you a huge hug mate.
I also class him as a good friend.

We are in touch 

The Brit

Seems impossible Jerry. He seemed to live a charmed life. And now so sad with his new baby that made him so happy. So sad. 

Un abrazo Henry Purcell

Alex called me yesterday to tell me that Greg had died in a helicopter crash near the Knik Glacier. I tried to call you a couple of times yesterday. There is a piece today in the New York Times.

Stay well, my brother.

Paco/Don Frank

Hi Jerry,  yes, the ripple effect of this accident and tragic death; Greg and Chantel and baby live in our cabin on our property in Aspen.  So so sad.   

E. Boyles


Sad news to hear of this tragic heli accident and Greg Harms passing.  Bummer, as I know you were a longtime friend of his and that he/Wylie had saved you on RMP.

Denny Hogan


5 Killed in Heli-Skiing Crash Near Alaska Glacier ~ NYT

A helicopter carrying a group of skiers crashed on Saturday near the Knik Glacier in Alaska, killing five people. 
A helicopter carrying a group of skiers crashed on Saturday near the Knik Glacier in Alaska, killing five people. Credit…Orjan F. Ellingvag/Corbis via Getty Images

By Neil Vigdor and Livia Albeck-Ripka

March 29, 2021

Five people, including the Czech Republic’s richest man, were killed on a heli-skiing excursion on Saturday when their chopper crashed near a glacier in Alaska, officials said.

Mr. Kellner, 56, was killed, along with another guest of the Tordrillo Mountain Lodge, Benjamin Larochaix, also of the Czech Republic; two of the lodge’s guides, Gregory Harms and Sean McMannany; and the helicopter’s pilot, Zach Russel, officials said.

One survivor was listed in serious but stable condition, according to the Alaska State Troopers, which said that the National Transportation Safety Board would conduct an investigation to determine what caused the crash. Emergency responders said they were notified at 10 p.m. on Saturday that the helicopter had not returned from an excursion and that debris from a crash had been observed near Knik Glacier.

The accident was the latest misadventure for an extreme sport with little margin for error that has become a magnet for thrill seekers. Flights to remote mountains, playgrounds of untouched powder, are known for their steep price tags and risk.

The lodge, which offers weekly packages of $15,000 per person for shared accommodations and heli-skiing charters, expressed its sorrow about the crash in a statement on Sunday night.

“This news is devastating to our staff, the community in which we operate and the families of the deceased,” the lodge said. “In 17 years of operations this is the first time we’ve had to face an event of this measure.”

A representative for the lodge, which is in Judd Lake, Alaska, said she did not know what caused the crash. Officials said the helicopter was operated by Soloy Helicopters in Wasilla, which did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The lodge confirmed that it had chartered the flight.

According to the lodge, Mr. Harms, 52, was a pioneering guide in the Alaskan heli-skiing community and operated his own excursion business, Third Edge Heli. Mr. McMannany, 38, had been a guide for more than 10 years and was an avalanche instructor, the lodge said.

Details about Mr. Larochaix, 50, and Mr. Russel, 33, the pilot, were not immediately available.


Aspen ski pro Greg Harms dies in helicopter crash near Anchorage ~ The Aspen Times

Harms, 52, was one of five people who died on Saturday

News NEWS | 1d agoStaff and wire reports

Greg Harms
Courtesy Tordrillo Mountain Lodge

Greg Harms, a longtime ski pro at Aspen Mountain and world-renowned heli-ski guide, was one of five people who died Saturday in a helicopter accident near Anchorage. He was 52.

According to the Alaska State Patrol, the crash happened about 6:30 p.m. Saturday near the Knik Glacier in the Tordrillo Mountains, which is northwest of Anchorage. There were six people on the helicopter and one remains in the hospital, according to the state patrol report. Harms was the owner of Third Edge Heli.

The Aspen Skiing Co. sent out an email Sunday that said in part: “… all of us who experienced Greg’s incredible ability to inspire us and make every person he connected with feel valued and important. Together we will embrace our sadness and move forward as Greg would want us to.”

Harms was a pioneering heli-ski guide in Alaska and worked for many years at the Tordrillo Mountain Lodge, spokesperson Mary Ann Pruitt told The Associated Press.

“Greg was one of the most experienced guides in the business,” she said. He also founded a heli-ski company that led trips across the world.

The Alaska State Patrol said the Alaska Army National Guard and volunteers from the Alaska Mountain Rescue Group were able to recover the deceased from the helicopter crash site near Knik Glacier.

In addition to Harms, the others who died include: Czech Republic residents Petr Kellner, 56, and Benjamin Larochaix, 50; Girdwood, Alaska resident Sean McMannany, 38; and Anchorage resident Zach Russel, 33, who was the pilot.

According to the Associated Press, the survivor, identified as David Horvath, 48, of the Czech Republic, was listed in serious condition Monday, said Mike Canfield, a spokesman at Providence Alaska Medical Center in Anchorage.

The chartered helicopter, an Airbus AS350 B3, was “conducting heli-ski operations in an area of steep and remote terrain within the Chugach Mountains near Knik Glacier,” National Transportation Safety Board member Tom Chapman said Monday during a briefing with reporters.

Alaska State Patrol said the National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the cause of the crash.

Clint Johnson, the NTSB’s chief in the Alaska division, was also able to document the crash site with photos from the air “before the snowfall could obscure the site,” Chapman said.

Recovery of the wreckage is now the main focus for investigators, but that timing is uncertain given the terrain and forecast of additional snow.

According to a report from the Washington Post, Kellner was the richest man in the Czech Republic with a net worth over $17 billion, according to the Forbes 2020 list of the world’s richest people.

“This news is devastating to our staff, the community in which we operate and the families of the deceased,” Pruitt said in the statement. “In 17 years of operations this is the first time we’ve had to face an event of this measure.”

The lodge is about 60 miles northwest of Anchorage, on Judd Lake.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Would Paul Theroux stop traveling? ~ NYT


By Gal Beckerman

  • March 28, 2021, 5:00 a.m. ET

For five days, Paul Theroux, the famous American travel writer, dined on hard-boiled eggs, microwaved dal and wine.

He had set out cross-country in a rented Jeep Compass on the day before Thanksgiving, driving from Cape Cod, where he has a house, to Los Angeles, where he delivered boxes of his papers to his archives at Huntington Library, and then flying on to Hawaii, his other home.

Theroux said he observed a landscape largely emptied out by the coronavirus pandemic, from deserted motels in Sallisaw, Okla., and Tucumcari, N.M., where he stopped to sleep, to a rest area in Tennessee where he had his solitary Thanksgiving meal, and the In-N-Out Burger in Kingman, Ariz., on his last day on the road. Every night, as is his habit, he wrote out in longhand all he had seen.

“It was like a panning shot of America,” he said in a video interview from the North Shore of Oahu, where he has lived off and on for over 30 years.

Theroux turns 80 in April. For a generation of backpackers now gone gray, the tattered paperback accounts of his treks through China, Africa and South America were a prod to adventure, bibles of inspiration under many a mosquito net. He has a new novel out from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in April, “Under the Wave at Waimea,” and his best-known book (and his own favorite among them), “The Mosquito Coast,” has been adapted into a television series starring his nephew, Justin Theroux, also set to premiere next month.

If this seems like a moment to take stock of an intrepid life and an almost extreme output of writing, Theroux does not see himself as anywhere near done. Before Covid-19 struck, he had plans to go to central Africa. He is deep into another novel and finishing up a new story collection. He himself can’t seem to keep track of the number of books he has written: “Fifty-something maybe?” (It’s actually 56.)

Paul Theroux in his home study in Hawaii.
Paul Theroux in his home study in Hawaii.Credit…Michelle Mishina Kunz for The New York Times

Travel narratives are his signature, a genre he grabbed onto in the early 1970s out of desperation when, as a young novelist with a few books under his belt, he found himself out of ideas. He decided to traverse part of the world by rail, starting from London, where he was living, through the Middle East and as far as Southeast Asia, returning on the Trans-Siberian Railway. The account that emerged from this tiring journey, “The Great Railway Bazaar,” has sold over 1.5 million copies and inspired shelves upon shelves of books built on similar conceits.

In just the past decade, Theroux has written about driving solo through Mexico (he always travels alone) in “On the Plain of Snakes” (2019); an exploration of some of the poorest regions of his own country in “Deep South” (2015); and a trip to Africa, “The Last Train to Zona Verde” (2013), in which he returned to regions he got to know as a Peace Corps volunteer in the 1960s.

This genre — the outsider arrives and offers an assessment of the foreign — has lost ground over the years to travel memoirs like Elizabeth Gilbert’s “Eat, Pray, Love” that describe journeys of the internal terrain as much as the people encountered and places seen. Theroux, sitting at his desk scattered with artifacts of those trips — tiny Buddhas, the skull of a scrimshawed monkey he was given in Bali, wooden Polynesian weapons — defended his approach.GET THE BOOK REVIEW NEWSLETTER: Be the first to see reviews, news and features in The New York Times Book Review.Sign Up

“It’s more necessary than ever to find the empathetic experience of meeting another person, being in another culture, to smell it, to suffer it, to put up with the hardship and the nuisances of travel, all of that matters,” Theroux said. He quoted the Nobel Prize-winning author V.S. Naipaul, who at various moments in Theroux’s writing career was a mentor and a nemesis: “I believe that the present, accurately seized, foretells the future.”

Theroux’s new book, “Under the Wave at Waimea,” is out in April, as is the television adaptation of his novel “The Mosquito Coast.”
Theroux’s new book, “Under the Wave at Waimea,” is out in April, as is the television adaptation of his novel “The Mosquito Coast.”Credit…Michelle Mishina Kunz for The New York Times

And Theroux agrees. “You don’t have to make forecasts,” he said. “You just write about the things that you see, the things that you hear, the things that you sense, and when you write that, you’re a prophet.”

But there is no great thirst for prophets these days, particularly of the sort who offer judgments of other cultures. Theroux seems aware of this, or at least of the notion that his way of writing about the world is fading.

His new novel tells the story of Joe Sharkey, an aging North Shore surfer who resembles characters Theroux has gotten to know on the beaches near his home. Sharkey feels acutely that he is being overtaken by younger surfers with big endorsements. For him, surfing was a way of life, an existence centered on catching waves, a commitment to the ocean.

Theroux sees surfing as a metaphor for his own life. All he ever wanted was to be able to write without interruption, without the distraction of car alarms going off outside his window or bills arriving in the mail, without the need to do anything else for money but sit day after day at his desk. In many ways, Theroux has achieved this. But like the surfer past his prime, he is not immune to feeling forgotten, to the sense that the world has become hostile to the pure joy of the waves. There’s a fear of being overlooked, unread.

~~~ CONTINUE ~~~


Too few Summit County residents responded to jury summonses in a case against two snowboarders who captured video of an avalanche above the Eisenhower-Johnson Memorial Tunnels.

Jason Blevins

Mar 25, 2021

Evan Hannibal, left, and Tyler DeWitt are facing criminal charges of reckless endangerment after the backcountry snowboarders reported an avalanche above I-70 in March 2020. On March 25, 2021, a Summit County judge declared a mistrial after too few jurors showed up to court. (Steve Peterson, Special to The Colorado Sun)

Summit County Judge Ed Casias sent out 40 summonses to local residents for Thursday’s docket. Only a fraction showed up — not enough to help decide one of the more interesting high-country cases in years. 

After dismissing some potential jurors for cause — like a vaccine shot and a big test for a college student — there were not enough jurors to try two backcountry snowboarders facing criminal charges involving an avalanche. So Casias was forced to declare a mistrial. 

“I am disappointed in the folks who did not show,” Casias said on Thursday after reviewing two sets of jurors. “There are very few civic responsibilities we ask of you: jury service and voting. Some of the people who were summonsed chose not to respond and I will address them.”

Summit County Court Judge Ed Casias ruled the March 25, 2021 trial against Evan Hannibal and Tyler DeWitt a mistrial after not enough jurors responded to his summonses. (Steve Peterson, Special to The Colorado Sun) 

Evan Hannibal and Tyler DeWitt are facing misdemeanor criminal charges of reckless endangerment after the reported an avalanche on March 25, 2020, that buried a service road above Interstate 70. The two experienced backcountry snowboarders were descending a line above the west portal of the Eisenhower-Johnson Memorial Tunnels when an avalanche ripped below them and buried a road above Interstate 70 in more than 20 feet of snow. 

The two handed over video of the avalanche to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center and that video prompted prosecutors in Summit County to file criminal charges as well as seek $168,000 in restitution for an avalanche mitigation device destroyed in the slide.

Exactly a year after the avalanche, they were in court. 

“Summit County, who has charged these guys and made them live with this for exactly a year to the day could not protect their rights with a fair jury pool, which is disturbing,” the snowboarders’ attorney, Jason Flores-Williams, said. “I think they have put these guys through enough. How many resources are we going to expend in a case against two really amazing guys who are emblematic of backcountry responsibility and kept themselves safe, just to make your point. You made your point. If what we are really interested in is fairness and protecting the constitutional rights of citizens, it’s time to drop this case.”

Avalanches rarely result in criminal charges. One example: A case in 2014 in Summit County involved two skiers who triggered an avalanche outside Keystone ski area that buried and killed a man, leading to a jury trial that ended with acquittal. But those charges focused on the skiers’ violation of boundary rules under the Colorado Ski Safety Act, not necessarily a backcountry avalanche.

The case against Hannibal and DeWitt has seen some twists on the way to Thursday’s jury selection process. Casias dismissed a motion filed by the two that their constitutional rights were violated when the video they voluntarily provided to the avalanche center was used as evidence in criminal charges. And Casias also dismissed a motion filed by Colorado’s attorney generalasking to throw out Summit County’s subpoena of avalanche center director Ethan Greene. 

Flores-Williams said as researched the case, he began to view it as more of an issue of product liability than reckless endangerment. Flores-Williams said he plans to file a motion to dismiss the charges. 

The March 25 avalanche deposited as much as 20 feet of debris on the Loop Road above the west portal of the Eisenhower-Johnson Memorial Tunnel. (Provided by the Colorado Avalanche Information Center)

“The real question here is the failure of the state’s avalanche mitigation machine,” Flores-Williams said. “Tyler and Evan did everything right, because they were not swept away and killed, right? But the state’s avalanche mitigation unit could not even mitigate itself from getting knocked out by an avalanche. I have all sorts of questions about the placement of that machine.”

A new trial date was set for June 6-7. Deputy District Attorney Stephanie Cava said her office will be ready for trial in June. 

“As we do in every case, we will keep an open dialogue with the defense going forward as part of that process,” she said.



MARCH 9, 2021

The author digs a pit before deciding to do nothing. [Photo] Dave Richards

In October of 2005, Ed LaChappelle, the man viewed by many to be the grandfather of North American avalanche forecasting, published a paper in The Avalanche Review(24.1) under the title, The Ascending Spiral. Of the many important points made in this paper, one stands out: do nothing in haste

Similarly, Gordon Graham, a 33-year law enforcement veteran who currently works as a risk management consultant, gives an amazing talk on the concept of risk management that focuses on the concept of high consequence and low frequency events. More importantly, he talks about high consequence, low frequency events in which one has no time to think. Graham’s take home point: Sloooowww Doooowwwn. 

I propose that we heed the advice of these two educators, but also believe that we should take it one step further—that for just a moment we do nothing—when in avalanche terrain.   

Avalanche decision making and rescue are high consequence events, particularly when it comes to rescuing your ski partners, it can feel like there is no time to think. 

However, this assumption is wrong. There is always time to think.

Before assessing an avalanche, or any kind of situation involving rescue, we need to take a time out. Even just 30 seconds could save your or your partner’s life. But is it truly possible to pause when under stress? 

As someone who has tried to meditate, I can tell you it is nearly impossible to do nothing. Quieting the mind is a very difficult task. Nevertheless, just the act of trying to do nothing can be of great value in a moment of high stress. Doing nothing gives you the chance to see what you might be missing, to ask yourself: “is there snow in the trees? Or has it been blown off? Interesting, the slope doesn’t look loaded, but something blew that snow out of the trees….  Wait, what is that little crack over there? Take a moment, have a sip of water, and really look at your surroundings. In the case of a rescue, your heart races and you panic. You feel like you have to move and get digging. “But wait! What about that hangfire?”

Twenty years ago, I rushed into a rescue. I watched as a friend and fellow guide was washed away in a surface hoar avalanche in the Chugach Range of Alaska. It was a full capture and all I could see was a huge fan of debris on the glacier below. I jumped into action, yelled for everyone on the ridge to stay put, and dove onto the slope. At that point I triggered the rest of the hill and watched in horror as the debris at the bottom doubled in size and depth. My job just got much harder.  

In the end, I found my friend. He was curled in a ball halfway down the slope screaming at me because I had almost killed him in my haste. I don’t know how he had gotten himself to that rock, but he was okay. That day I learned the value of just three minutes.

I also argue further that in this case it would have been better to have done nothing at all. If I had done nothing my friend would have even gotten on the radio to tell me he was fine. By doing nothing for only 30 seconds, I could have avoided nearly smoking my buddy. 

Yesterday, I tried to pass LaChapelle’s lesson on to my fiancé. Neither of us were caught in an avalanche, but the conditions were less than perfect and the lesson of doing nothing was the name of the game. The weather was unpleasant: cold, windy, snowing and toward the end of the day we had a rime ice event. 

Our lesson was simple enough. We dug one quick hole, but that was the unimportant part and really done just so I could justify my job description with some silly pit data. The lesson I wanted to impart was to do nothing. We spent a large part of the day at a full stop, putting that spare down layer to work. It might have seemed like we were doing nothing, but still we were listening to the wind and watching the snow. I prodded her to elaborate on what she saw and asked her to make a terrain decision based solely on her observations. 

She nailed it. She chose good aspects and terrain features that led to a perfect and safe day despite a spiking hazard. She did everything right by simply standing still and making observations based on snow and wind condition and intuition.

The concepts of avalanche forecasting and avalanche rescue are complicated. Furthermore, the decisions you make on these fronts can be stressful and carry huge consequences. But by taking the time to look around and to be truly observant you might find that the answers are simpler than they seem. The key is to truly put aside the noise, to take the time to do nothing. 


March 22, 20217

~~~ LISTEN ~~~

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration upgraded the computer model that forecasters use to predict the weather one to two weeks in the future, called the Global Forecast System. The new model is better at predicting where hurricanes will form and how intense they will be as well as where and when snowstorms and rainstorms will occur, and how much precipitation will fall.

“This is going to have a fundamental impact on the forecasts that are provided day to day,” says Louis Uccellini, director of the National Weather Service. 

Climate change is driving more severe weather across the country. In recent years, Americans have experienced record-breaking hurricanes, wildfires, heat waves and rainstorms. In many cases, federal weather forecasts have not provided accurate information. 

The most striking example was in 2012 when the model was slow to predict that Hurricane Sandy was going to make landfall. During the 2019 hurricane season, the federal weather model underperformed the European Union’s forecast model when it came to predicting where hurricanes would make landfall. And just this month the model incorrectly predicted how much precipitation would fall in a snowstorm that hit the Boulder, Colo., area.Article continues after sponsor message

Inaccurate federal forecasts are dangerous because most weather apps, websites and television weather reports rely on the government information.

In tests, the upgraded weather model performed better than its predecessor. “Improvements are pretty significant for this upgrade,” says Vijay Tallapragada, the head of the Modeling and Data Assimilation Branch for NOAA’s Environmental Modeling Center. 

His team tested the new model against past weather events to see how it would have performed. The team found that the new model predicted the recent Colorado snowstorm nearly a day earlier and was more precise about where snow would be most intense. 

When it comes to protecting lives and property, however, hurricane forecasts are particularly important. The new model appears to be noticeably better at predicting where hurricanes will make landfall. “We found about a 10[%] to 15% improvement in tropical cyclone track and intensity in the Atlantic Basin,” Tallapragada says. 

That adds up to about 36 hours of extra lead time for residents in the storm’s path. “These improvements are pretty prominent,” he says.

The upgraded model relies on supercomputers in Virginia and Florida as well as software upgrades that allow the model to use more information from satellites and aircraft. 

It is also the first time federal weather forecasts will use data collected in the upper atmosphere. Until now, NOAA’s weather model didn’t include what is happening in the top layers of the atmosphere. That’s a problem because the entire atmosphere is one continuous system, and what happens up high affects weather near the surface. For example, temperature changes in the stratosphere can affect the jet stream — the river of air that snakes across the United States and carries weather systems with it.


NOAA launches major upgrade to flagship ‘American’ weather prediction model ~ The Washington Post

American model forecast on Christmas Eve, showing snow and mixed precipitation in the Washington region and to the north after an earlier period of rain as an Arctic front passes. (Pivotal Weather) 

By Matthew CappucciMarch 22, 2021

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced Monday thata major upgrade has been applied to the American Global Forecast System model, one of the main computer models used to predict weather across North America and the world.

The newly minted upgrade, which went live at 8 a.m. Eastern time, is the latest in improvements designed to make for more accurate forecasts as far out as about two weeks into the future. NOAA says it will lead to better predictions of hurricanes and other extreme events, ocean waves and weather systems high in the atmosphere.

The Weather Service prepared to launch prediction model that many forecasters didn’t trust

The upgrade focuses on addressing the underlying physics of the model and how it handles various features of the atmosphere. It’s known as version 16.0 of the model frequently referred to by forecasters as simply the GFS or the “American” model.

The upgrade piggybacks off the launch of the GFS FV3 model, or Finite-Volume Cubed-Sphere Dynamical Core, a souped-up version of the previous GFS model that debuted in summer of 2019. Its release was delayed while model biases were addressed, including a tendency for model depictions to skew too cold and snowy. After changes, the FV3 was released, fully replacing the legacy GFS model in September.

The latest upgrade focuses on addressing some additional biases. The upgrade also adjusts how initial conditions, or current weather information, are ingested into and processed by the model, while integrating more sources of data from weather satellites and ordinary aircraft.

Furthermore, the model’s resolution in the vertical will nearly double. The atmosphere will now be simulated as having 127 vertical slices, rather than just 64.

“When we announced our upgrade to the GFS in 2019, we described it as replacing the engine of a car,” Louis Uccellini, director of NOAA’s National Weather Service, said in a phone conference Monday. “With today’s upgrade, we’re adding more horsepower and more upgrades to the entire car as we move forward.”

The upgrade “brings together the day-to-day reliability and speed required” in an operational weather model, Uccellini said. Software engineers reconfigured existing NOAA infrastructure to allow for more computationally demanding model simulations to be run. The physical computers themselves are located in Reston, Va., and Orlando.

Version 16.0 of the GFS also absorbs a global ocean wave model known as Wavewatch III, which should allow for better marine forecasts, particularly with regard to water waves driven by wind. Wave forecasts will now stretch to 16 days out rather than just over one week into the future.

“This implementation is the first time it allowed us to couple the GFS to the global wave model,” said Vijay Tallapragada, chief of the Modeling and Data Assimilation Branch at NOAA’s Environmental Modeling Center.

Tallapragada explained that the highest altitude simulated by the new GFS will jump to 80 kilometers (50 miles) up from 55 kilometers (34 miles), effectively raising the ceiling of the model. The additional layers added to the model will allow for improvement in two key areas — the near-surface “boundary layer,” and the stratosphere, the second layer of earth’s atmosphere.

Most weather occurs in the troposphere, or the part of the atmosphere in contact with the ground. In the stratosphere, temperature increases with height due to the absorption of ultraviolet solar radiation.

Increased resolution in the stratosphere will allow for better prediction of sudden stratospheric warming events, which are known to have major implications on weather systems closer to the surface. In early January, a sudden stratospheric warming event spurred the disruption of the polar vortex, which, through a chain reaction of events, unleashed an outbreak of bitter Arctic air that wrought havoc in Texas in mid-February.

Central states’ Arctic plunge: The historic cold snap and snow by the numbers

A look at the American model’s simulation for how much snow was expected to fall in the Rockies during mid-March. (WeatherBell) 

Tallapragada said that users can expect significant improvements in forecasting high-end events such as heavy precipitation or tropical cyclones.

He said that Version 16, when run in parallel with the previous iteration of the GFS model, resulted in “more well-accurate timing and magnitude of the snow in Colorado” that struck early last week.

Colorado and Wyoming see record blizzard, historic snowfall in Denver and Cheyenne

NOAA has been experimenting with aspects of Version 16, running it internally since 2018. When it comes to tropical storms and hurricanes, they say the results are promising.

“We found about a 10 to 15 percent improvement in the track and intensity forecasts in the Atlantic Basin, especially at longer lead times,” Tallapragada said.

Programmers and meteorologists also noted that the tweaked GFS can signal trouble areas at risk for brewing a tropical storm or hurricane about 36 hours further in advance.

Despite what NOAA touts as an impressive step in the future of weather forecasting, some meteorologists still believe the United States lags behind Europe in its ability to produce a good model. The European Center for Medium Range Weather Forecasting, or ECMWF, has a model that is generally considered better than the GFS.

Weather Service said its upgraded American forecasting model is about ready for prime time

“We have been running the GFS v16 maps in parallel on our models page for the past few months, and I’ve honestly not seen much to impress me,” wrote Matt Rogers, a meteorologist at Commodity Weather Group. “The model is still quite volatile from run-to-run with significant changes that lack consistency. While it may have a decimal improvement in skill score, it will likely continue to verify as a weaker model against the European and all the various ensemble guidance.”


For the next six months, we’ll be seeing a lot more daylight than darkness.

Visitors watch the sun set from beneath a bough of blooming cherry blossoms at the Tidal Basin. (Bill O’Leary/WASHINGTON POST)

By Justin GrieserMarch 19, 2021 at 12:00 p.m. MDTAdd to list

Signs of spring are everywhere: Birds are chirping, daffodils are emerging and blooming trees mean it’s time to start fretting about allergies. On Saturday, the new season becomes official: March 20 is the vernal equinox, marking the first day of spring in the Northern Hemisphere.

Although the weather may still feel chilly, we are experiencing just over 12 hours of daylight and the sun appears noticeably higher in the sky. With winter behind us, we’re now entering the warmer, sunnier and brighter half of the year.

What happens on the equinox?

Equinoxes occur twice a year — once in March and once in September at a precise moment in time. 

On the March equinox, which arrives Saturday at 5:37 a.m. Eastern time, the sun’s direct rays appear straight over the equator before shifting into the Northern Hemisphere. We’re halfway between the winter and summer solstice, which means neither daylight nor darkness has the upper hand. In the Southern Hemisphere, summer has ended and autumn is beginning.

The reason we have equinoxes is because we don’t orbit the sun completely upright. The Earth is tilted on its axis by about 23.5 degrees, causing one hemisphere to receive more of the sun’s light and energy at different times of year.AD

On the equinox, however, the sun’s rays directly strike the equator — the dividing line between Earth’s two hemispheres — which means day and night are nearly equal everywhere on Earth.

The exact time and date of the March equinox changes slightly each year. In most years, it falls on the 20th. In 2020, however, the equinox arrived March 19 in North America — as it will on every leap year for the rest of this century.

To avoid confusion between time zones, the official time of the equinox is based on Coordinated Universal Time (UTC), which is four hours ahead of Eastern Daylight Time. By this metric, a March 21 equinox hasn’t occurred since 2007, and won’t happen again until the year 2102, according to

Day and night not perfectly equal

Though “equinox” comes from the Latin words “aequus” (equal) and “nox” (night), both of Earth’s hemispheres actually see slightly more than 12 hours of daylight on the equinox.

In Washington, we’ll see 12 hours 9 minutes of daylight on Saturday, with sunrise at 7:11 a.m. and sunset at 7:20 p.m.

The imbalance happens for two reasons, one being how we measure the length of a day. The sun appears as a lumbering disc, and not a discrete point in the sky. Sunrise occurs as soon as the sun’s upper edge appears on the horizon, while sunset doesn’t happen until the sun’s upper edge completely dips below it.

Moreover, the Earth’s atmosphere can refract, or bend, the sun’s light, allowing us to see the sun even when it’s technically below the horizon. Daylight on the equinox therefore varies — from 12 hours 6 minutes near the equator to about 12 hours 20 minutes in Earth’s polar regions.

Increasing daylight and shifting sunrise and sunset

The equinoxes are the only two days of the year when the sun rises perfectly due east and sets due west along the horizon — regardless of your location. (The only place this doesn’t apply is at the North and South poles, where the sun is either rising or setting for the first time in six months.)

For the next three months, you’ll notice the sun rise and set a bit farther to the north as it takes a longer and steeper path through the sky.

Though the days have steadily been getting longer since the winter solstice, the increasing day length is especially noticeable around the spring equinox; it’s when we gain daylight at our fastest clip of the year.

(Justin Grieser/The Washington Post) 

In the nation’s capital, the amount of daylight increases from 11 hours 21 minutes on March 1 to 12 hours 40 minutes on April 1. Around the equinox, we’re gaining 2 minutes 32 seconds of daylight each day.

The increase is greater in locations to our north, but less pronounced as you head closer to the equator. Boston, for example, tacks on 2 minutes 52 seconds per day, while in Miami the daily increase is only about 90 seconds.

Is spring just a tease that swiftly comes and goes, or an enduring season?

As the days lengthen and the sun climbs higher in the sky, temperatures will continue their inevitable ascent toward summer. D.C.’s average high temperature, now 57 degrees, hits 60 on March 27 and climbs to 71 degrees by late April.

This year, it looks like winter won’t hang on too much longer. In its spring 2021 outlook released this week, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is forecasting warmer-than-average temperatures across most of the United States.


While spring always has its share of wild temperature swings, the equinox is a reminder that warmer days are just around the corner.