As the cold wave in Varanasi caught me by surprise, I asked the conference organisers for a place to buy a down jacket and they kindly drove me to a nice store called Woodland within the city. I purchased a cheap down-like jacket there (as demonstrated by the newspaper excerpt!) that solved my problem. And I thus discovered a brand that looked surprisingly similar to Timberland, slowly coming to realise this was the whole point: change Timber into Wood, slightly modify the tree in the logo, and you get a local brand that recycles Timberland designs and products to their own profit… (This seems to be a common occurrence in India, judging from this New York Times article.) Anyway, it is rather entertaining to visit the Woodland website, as they mimic major outdoor brand websites like Patagonia or Petzl, but do not offer any material one could seriously consider taking hiking and even less climbing! (Besides the jacket that managed to keep me warm for the rest of the meeting!, I also bought a cheap pair of sneakers and that quickly proved to be a mistake, as the fit is only approximate and the material of poor quality.)
Archive for Patagonia
As I was glancing through The Cleanest Line, (the outdoor clothing company) Patagonia‘s enjoyable—as long as one keeps in mind Patagonia is a company, although with commendable ethical and ecological goals—blog, I came upon this entry “And the Winner of “Chasing Waves” is …” where the name of the winner of the book Chasing Wave was revealed. (Not that I am particularly into surfing…!) The interesting point to which I am coming so circumlocutory (!) is that they use a random generator based on atmospheric noise to select the winner! I particularly like the sentence that the generator “for many purposes is better than the pseudo-random number algorithms typically used in computer programs”. For which purpose exactly?!
Now, to be (at least a wee) fair, the site of random.org contains an explanation about the quality of their generator. I am however surprised by the comparison they run with the rand() function from PHP on Microsoft Windows, since it produces a visible divergence from uniformity on a bitmap graph… Further investigation led to this explanation of the phenomenon, namely the inadequacy of the PHP language rather than of the underlying (pseudo-)random generator. (It had been a while since I had a go at this randomness controvery!)
180° SOUTH is a recent movie repeating Chouinard’s trip to Patagonia about forty years later… (Yvon Chouinard is one of the founders of the mountain brand Patagonia!, who also developped the hexes used in free climbing, later sold by Black Diamond…) Very cool movie, even though I do no see the point in the road trip itself.
Got this link through the Patagonia website, showing an impressive solo ascent of Aguja Guillaumet in the beautiful Fitzroy group in Patagonia by Colin Haley wearing a helmet camera. This unique perspective makes for a high adrenaline ten minute movie where you need to remember to breathe once in a while… Haley makes the climb seem so easy while it is definitely an engaged one, especially when climbing solo! The only issue with the helmet camera is that it often kills the vertical perspective, in that it is difficult to assess the slope at times.