Published in Smithsonian.com
Austria is a country defined by mountains: Well over half of its landscape is shaped by the iconic Alps. A night spent in Innsbruck, the capital city of Tyrol (the state in which Austria’s highest peaks are found), is full of constant reminders of the summits above: crisp mountain air, cool temperatures, the sound of periodic rock fall. Many Austrians spend their weekends and holidays exploring the higher climes. They hike past lush alpine dairy pastures and pristine lakes in the shadow of rocky spires. And at the end of each day, they enjoy a hearty meal, hot shower and night’s rest at a scenic hütte (hut).
There are more than 1,000 hütten scattered through the Eastern Alps, most of which are associated with either the Austrian Alpine Club or German Alpine Club. While a summer hiking in the Austrian Alps might sound like the sort of vacation best suited for serious adventurers, the clubs were founded in 1873 with the mission to make the peaks accessible to all. As Henrich Stenitzer, a prominent club member, wrote in 1912, “The alpine clubs have unlocked the majesty and beauty of the high mountains for the masses, giving countless numbers of people the opportunity, without prohibitively demanding effort…or exorbitant costs, to become acquainted with the Alps.”
Published in Jungles in Paris.
The “Twelve Apostles" of Australia's southern shore push upwards from the surf as though reaching for the heavens. But these dramatic features of the Victoria Coast, some 140 miles southwest of Melbourne, are of course non-living figures, sculpted – and destroyed – by the processes of the sea.
The rock stacks are collectively called the "Twelve Apostles," although there were only nine of them when they got this name. They are made of limestone that is millions of years old, and which was itself formed from petrified dead layers of microscopic marine creatures. In previous geologic eras, these golden towers were part of the terrestrial bluffs behind them. But as the Southern Ocean's Antarctic waves pounded the cliffs over millennia, all but the sturdiest bodies of rock eroded away. The result was these freestanding spires, some of which stand more than 100 feet tall. Other impressive rock structures lie beneath the ocean's surface here. An architectural network of underwater canyons and arches contrasts with the solitary uprightness of the Apostles—and houses abundant fish, crustaceans, and seals.
Though they have endured for millions of years in a marine environment so inhospitable that it is referred to as “Shipwreck Coast," the Apostles are far from invincible. Their number went from nine to eight in 2005, when a fateful wave sent one crumbling into the sea. But these acts of demolition belong to the same process by which future Apostles will be created, as the constant tidal pull causes new pillars to emerge from the shoreline bluffs.
Published in ATTN:
Hurricane Patricia, which made landfall on the southwest coast of Mexico, is by all accounts a monster storm. Between Thursday and Friday, Patricia swiftly grew from a category one hurricane to a category five tempest, with sustained winds that peaked at 200 miles per hour and gusts of close to 250 miles per hour. When it made landfall the winds had slowed slightly, blowing at 165 miles per hour, according to the New York Times. It’s the strongest and most rapidly intensifying hurricane on record, and forced tens of thousands of people to evacuate from Mexico’s Pacific coast as Patricia barreled towards the shore. Could it also be a product of climate change?
While most scientists are hesitant to directly link this particular hurricane to our greenhouse gas emissions, Patricia could still be a preview of the storms that global warming will set the stage for in the years to come. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, “[I]t is likely that greenhouse warming will cause hurricanes in the coming century to be more intense globally and have higher rainfall rates than present-day hurricanes.”
Published in ATTN:
As a Forbes contributor who covers personal finance, you might think Laura Shin has always been money savvy. But Shin says budgeting was in no way her thing when she was in her 20s. In fact, she spent the decade amassing big debts, without a savings account or a plan to pay them off.
Shin turned 34 before she made her first budget. And, she says, that’s what turned her whole life around.
“People tend to groan when they think of their budgets, like it’s a diet or something,” Shin tells ATTN:. “But for me [making a budget] ended up being super empowering and enabled me to start achieving my goals.” Goals that include being a successful freelance journalist, which she now is—and one who writes about money management, at that.
“I think without my mistakes, I’d have a lot less wisdom to impart,” Shin wrote in her ebook for Forbes, "The Millennial Game Plan: Career and Money and Secrets to Succeed in Today’s World." Luckily, she’s shared some of that wisdom with us.
Published in RootsRated.
It’s still dark on the drive to the cliff, but the climbers in the car are already wide awake in anticipation of the morning’s session. Seattle-based climber Audrey Sniezek is behind the wheel, calmly steering as she chats with her partners—the “morning crew”, as they call themselves—en route to Little Si, their favorite sport-climbing crag. When they pull into the parking lot, theirs is the only car in sight.
With multiple 5.14s under her belt, Sniezek, 42, is one of the top female climbers in the country—and she gets it done while maintaining her career as a high-level software engineer. Hence the pre-dawn start just to climb at the local crag: It’s Sniezek’s way of fitting in the time she needs to stay on top of her game.
Sniezek has been climbing in the early mornings at little Si since 2005. “It’s the perfect training cliff, it’s relentless,” she says. “Every time I come here I learn something new about myself.” At this point she has ticked off many of the crag’s hardest routes, but Sniezek says she had been climbing for 10 years before she realized her full athletic potential—and figured out how to reach it while still balancing climbing with a demanding career.
RootsRated had the chance to talk with Sniezek to get her top tips for climbing at your best, even in the throes of a busy life. Here’s what she had to say.
Published in RootsRated.
When Christopher McDougall’s book Born to Run became a national sensation, its star, ultrarunner Micah True, also known as Caballo Blanco, or “White Horse,” went from unknown recluse to household name—and his fame was further heightened by hisunexpected death in 2012. But beneath the legend of Caballo Blanco was an authentic, down-to-earth man, a story that Seattle-based filmmaker Sterling Noren aims to convey in his new documentary, Run Free: The True Story of Caballo Blanco, which offers a fascinating look into Micah True’s real, yet no less remarkable, life.
As part of its U.S. tour, Run Free will show at the Capitol Theater in Olympia on Oct. 6, and at The Mountaineers in Seattle on Oct. 7, the second of which will be followed by a live Q&A with Sterling Noren and Seattle-local “Barefoot” Ted McDonald. RootsRated had the chance to sit down with Noren about his favorite local places to run, how he and True met, and the film’s backstory—including how he carried on after the tragic passing of Caballo Blanco midway through the project. Here’s what he had to say.
Published in ATTN:
Today’s feminism needs to encompass more than just one ethnic/racial/cultural/socioeconomic group. If you are a white woman, your experience will be different than that of a woman of color. If you are a straight white woman, your experience will be different from that of a white gay woman or gay woman of color. This is where intersectionality comes into play.
Intersectionality is a decades-old term that over the last few years has been making its way into the mainstream. Thirteen-year-old Rowan Blanchard, star of "Girl Meets World," used it in her incredibly smart essay on feminism last month, and it was used in the aftermath of the Taylor Swift/Nicki Minaj Twitter exchange.
As UCLA professor Kimberlé Crenshaw, the woman who coined the term in 1989, defines it, intersectionality is “The view that women experience oppression in varying configurations and in varying degrees of intensity. Cultural patterns of oppression are not only interrelated, but are bound together and influenced by the intersectional systems of society.” Intersectionality posits that gender, race, sexual orientation—and the other categories that comprise a person’s identity—intersect to simultaneously influence an individual’s experience. The forms of oppression cannot be dissected apart into tidy categories of sexism, racism, or homophobia; many people experience a variety of forms of discrimination on different levels at the same time.
Published in Grist
“I have an unhealthy — or, I would like to say, healthy — obsession with poop,” says marine biologist Asha de Vos. Specifically, she’s stuck on kind that comes out of blue whales living off the coast of her homeland, Sri Lanka; in fact you could even say she built her career on a pile of this shit.
When de Vos found the red, gloopy stuff floating at the surface of the North Indian Ocean, it was her first clue that this population of whales behaves very differently than previously thought. While a student, de Vos was taught that all blue whales are migratory, feeding at the poles and coming to the warmer waters in order to breed and give birth. But blue whales are still a mysterious bunch — especially the ones near Sri Lanka, since no one studied that particular population until de Vos began to in 2008. After repeatedly coming across blue whale poop at sea, she realized that the local population actually stays there year-round.
For a woman growing up in Sri Lanka, marine biology was one of the most unorthodox fields de Vos could have chosen. “Most people are encouraged to be doctors, lawyers, engineers, or business people,” she says. But “as a child I wanted to be an adventure scientist. I wanted to be the one who discovered things and saw things that no one else saw, explore places no one else would go.”
After becoming the first Sri Lankan to get a PhD in marine mammal research, de Vos has become a pioneer in the study of blue whales, making discoveries that have been recognized across the globe. “My parents just said, ‘Do what you love and you’ll do it well,’” she says. “And I do what I love.”
We talked with de Vos about her smelly passions, the biggest threats to whales today, and why the Save the Whales movement needs a makeover. Here’s an edited and condensed version of what she had to say.
Published in Grist
On an early October morning in 1997, on the west side of the island of Kauai, 18-year-old Mike Coots got in the water with his bodyboard, as he had done hundreds of times before, and started to paddle out. He and his friends went about 300 feet from the shore until they reached the surf break, in water that was 30 to 40 feet deep. They were quickly rewarded by a set of good waves, each about four feet high. Everyone in the group caught one right away. Except for Coots.
It was just Coots and one other surfer still waiting when the last wave of the set came in. “I remember looking at him and we looked at each other wondering who’s going to catch the wave,” Coots recounts. “[A]nd I got on my board and started paddling.” And then, without warning, a tiger shark emerged from the depths and latched on to his leg.
The animal thrashed back and forth with his leg in its mouth. It finally let go when he punched it in the nose. Coots got on his board and began to paddle like mad back to the shore. When he felt his leg spasm, he feared the shark had taken hold of him again; it wasn’t until he looked back that he realized his leg was, in fact, gone. In its place, a raw laceration spurted out blood with every pump of his heart.
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We’ve had plenty of reasons to get scared about sharks. From the recent “summer of the shark” attacks in North Carolina to Discovery Channel’s Shark Week to this nightmare, close encounters with the infamous marine predators seem to be cropping up left and right lately.
In the midst of the media mania, scientists continue to try to reassure the public that the odds of being a shark attack victim are in fact incredibly small. You are orders of magnitude more likely to suffer a drowning incident, get killed on yourbicycle, or meet your end in a collapsing sand hole than in the jaws of a shark.
Yet sharks continue to be one of our favorite things to feel horrified by. Those furtive fins gliding above the water! Those huge, lithe, cartilaginous bodies! And let’s not forget — though how could we? — those rows upon rows of teeth.
Before his attack, however, Coots spent little time thinking about sharks. “I never really had any fear of them, even though I’ve been around them my whole life,” he tells me. “It was just a thing that’s in the ocean that you’ve got to respect and be careful of, but all in all they just do their own thing.”
But after the incident, Coots did fall into to a certain shark obsession — though not the way you might expect. The Hawaii-based surfer and photographer turned his experience into a call to action. Except that, rather than fixate on the harm sharks present to us, Coots is more concerned with what we’re doing to them.
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For Jungles in Paris
From the southern jungles to the high plateaus, beneath the blistering desert sun and Himalayan night skies, out of swarming ports and cities and into isolated rural towns, India's trucks plod along the country's roads to deliver the food, clothes, tools, and fuel that keep the country running.
A driver of one of these commercial vehicles might spend as many as ten months a year on the road. Unable to take part in the more stationary life known to his friends and families, he makes his truck his home—often in vibrant, highly personalized fashion. Indian trucks announce their presence on the road in a way unknown in pretty much every other country.
They are, in short, embellished to the max. Silver tassels might hang from the steering wheel, and flower-printed cushions pad the seat. Bright paintings of Hindu, Christian, and Muslim deities hang next to glossy posters of Bollywood stars. Geometric shapes are scrawled all over the exterior, where decals shout messages—“ROAD KING," “NON STOP"—in English and Hindi, red, yellow, blue, green, and orange.